Corrupt former anti-drug officials Chea Leng (L) and Moek Dara exit the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Lawyers for disgraced former anti-drug czar Moek Dara and his associate Chea Leng have filed appeals with the Supreme Court following an Appeal Court verdict issued on Friday that upheld the life sentence faced by both men.
“My client has not accepted the decision upholding the Banteay Meanchey Court’s decision. So he immediately appealed it to Supreme Court after the verdict was handed down,” Ray Bunthoeun, a defence lawyer for Dara, said yesterday.
Leng’s defence lawyer, He Chiv Eng, echoed Bunthoeun’s complaint and said he had appealed the verdict as well.
A lawyer for Morn Doeun – an anti-drug officer who is now at large and was sentenced in absentia to 25 years –said yesterday he would likely follow suit.
Though Doeun fled in 2011 following questioning, his sentence was reduced by five years on Friday after several of the charges levied against him were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
“Based on the hearing, the Court of Appeal considered that Moek Dara, Chea Leng and Morn Doeun were guilty as charged... and decided to uphold the Banteay Meanchey Court’s decision,” Judge Chay Chandaravann said by phone yesterday.
In addition to the sentence, Dara was fined $300,000, and had his bank account and two properties seized, Leng was fined $21,000 and Doeun $34,000. Those fines were upheld on Friday.
The hefty sentences and fines handed down to the trio reflect the enormity of the charges against the men.
For years, the three had run an elaborate crime ring that saw hundreds of drug criminals released in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.
A verdict decision had to be delayed twice as judges sifted through thousands of pages of evidence and hundreds of witness testimony in what was the largest trial in modern history, save for those taking place at the ECCC.
Both Leng and Dara were present at court on Friday but declined to speak with reporters. Both men have repeatedly claimed they are innocent and called the witness testimony suspect.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]