Former anti-drug chief Moek Dara (L) enters the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
Appeal hearings in the case of disgraced former anti-drug czar Moek Dara and his associate, Chea Leng, wrapped up yesterday with both men – as well as the lawyer for a third defendant currently at large – pleading innocence, once again.
In January, the pair received life sentences and hundreds of thousands in fines for more than 20 counts of bribery and drug trafficking. A third man, the fugitive former anti-drugs officer Morn Doeun, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
During a lower court hearing that lasted several weeks, testimony from hundreds of witnesses detailed how the men created an elaborate crime network that netted them hundreds of thousands of dollars and saw hundreds of known traffickers go free in exchange for bribes.
At court yesterday, the defendants pled for the convictions to be overturned.
“Due to the hearings, I have recognised that there was a shortfall in my governance, and I had been mistaken in governing my subordinates, which caused some of them to commit other illegal activities in my anti-drug department, but it was not my intention,” said the former head of the National Anti-Drugs Authority.
“I would like to ask the court to arrest them and bring them to the court and punish them according to the laws in order to maintain the value and honour of the anti-drug police, and to join with our royal government in cracking down on drug trafficking by 2015, successfully.”
Echoing the sentiments of his former boss, Chea Leng insisted he was one of the good guys.
“I worked very hard to combat and crack down on drug trafficking for my country, but instead, I was accused of being a drug trafficker,” he said.
“I have not committed any crime as accused. I would like to ask the court to drop the charges against me and release me,” he added.
Presiding Judge Chay Chandaravann said a verdict would be handed down on December 31.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org