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Investigation delays final hearing for anti-drug czar

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Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara exits a van accompanied by a guard at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The Phnom Penh Court of Appeal yesterday postponed the final hearing of disgraced anti-drug czar Moek Dara, Chea Leng and Morn Doeun until next month, citing a need for more time in light of last-minute investigations by the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court, a court official said.

Presiding judge Chay Chandaravann said the lower court was confirming the identity of an imprisoned former drug trafficker-turned-witness who had levelled accusations at Dara, and whose existence Dara’s defence team questioned.

“So far, 24 criminal cases of Moek Dara, Chea Leng and Morn Doeun have been held by the Court of Appeal,” said Chandaravann. “Due to the late investigative work of Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court, the last appeal hearing of their cases will take place on October 1, and their whole final hearings will be completely finished on October 11.”

The court also ordered the Banteay Meanchey court to officially confirm a thumb-printed confession letter from Doeun – who is still at large – in which he confessed to his mistakes and said he was simply following orders from Dara.

Instead of opening the new case, Moek Dara and Chea Leng were re-questioned by the court, and rehashed allegations of faking reports and documents, releasing drug traffickers in exchange for bribes, keeping and selling contraband and leading drug trafficking activity in Cambodia.

Chandaravann read the statement of Chhum Chankea, a former trafficker whom Dara used as both an undercover agent and an intermediary between himself and the drug trafficking groups that he purportedly ran.

Chankea said in her statement that Dara met with a group of Thai drug dealers at a casino in Poipet town in 2009, and with Chea Leng, sold the group confiscated drugs for 3.3 million baht (about US$107,000).

Dara and Leng continued to deny the accusations yesterday, with Dara claiming he had been framed by criminals.

Leng also maintained that he was framed, saying: “If I had really committed accusations such as these, I would like myself to be jailed for 100 births.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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