The Naga casino boat drug bust at the centre of the corruption convictions of disgraced anti-drugs czar Moek Dara and his one-time deputy Chea Leng hit the Court of Appeal yesterday, with the busted convicts in the Naga boat case blaming each other and accomplices for the crimes.
In 2008, Leng led a team of undercover cops to crack down on the Naga casino ship in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmorn district.
Lim Hay, 36, and Suth Romanea, 33, who were in court yesterday, were busted for trafficking heroin that Leng is now convicted of siphoning off and selling in a separate case.
Hay and Romanea were sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 25 million riel [about US$6250] for intent to traffic two kilograms of heroin.
“The suspects were arrested while they were selling the heroin to the police agents, who had disguised themselves as drug buyers at the Naga ship in Phnom Penh,” presiding judge Pak Chansambo said yesterday.
“After their arrest, police seized three big packages of drugs totalling about two kilograms of heroin, along with a car, from them.”
The confiscation of the car and a further haul of about four kilograms of heroin are the subject of corruption charges against Leng, who siphoned off the property, and Dara, who approved Leng’s paperwork.
Although Romanea accepted she had participated in a criminal act, she protested that she was a low-level accomplice and that the primary heroin trafficker, a woman from Stung Treng province, had escaped the clutches of the law.
Hay opposed his conviction, claiming that he was nothing more than a go-to guy and had no knowledge his car was being used to transport drugs.
The verdicts will be handed down on September 20.
The appeal hearing of 25 criminal cases against Dara and Leng will continue tomorrow, after a week-long adjournment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at email@example.com