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Prison drugs smuggled in dried fish

A prison guard and two inmates were tried yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of distributing drugs in the capital’s Police Judiciare (PJ) Prison.

Choub Seang, the 48-year-old former chief of the PJ Prison’s building A, yesterday denied charges that he was responsible for drug distribution that took place inside the prison.

“I am an innocent person. I would like to ask the court to drop the charges and release me,” he said.

However, according to statements from the deputy prosecutor of the court, Koeu Ponna, the former prison chief allegedly accepted bribes from prisoners and in turn  allowed them to smuggle drugs into the facility.

He said that one of the prisoners on trial, 53-year-old Chea Savuth, paid Choub Seang in order to allow a cook for the prisoner’s family to enter the facility and deliver him a cocktail of drugs.

Chea Savuth partially verified this information when he confessed to personal drug use inside the prison, but denied charges of distribution.

“I have used drugs for over a year inside the prison. I would use heroin and yama two or three times a week. I got the drug from an old female Vietnamese cook in my family. She would deliver me the drugs inside of dried fish and other foods,” said Chea Savuth.

Chea Savuth, together with 45-year-old female prisoner Keo Khemmaly, was arrested on October 28 last year in cells in PJ Prison.

Loek Bunroeun, a police officer at the anti-drug trafficking department of the Ministry of Interior, said when police searched the two prisoners’ rooms they found 10 grams of heroin and three grams of amphetamines.

Choub Seang was arrested one day later.

Presiding judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Oeung Seang said: “His activities have affected the reputation of police and violated laws. The court will strongly punish [Choub Seang] if he is found to be guilty.”

A verdict is due on Friday, August 19.

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