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Schoolgirl asks for freedom

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Vann Srey Khuoch, 13, leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Her lawyer has asked the court to re-investigate her case.

A schoolgirl who has been detained in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison for more than a month over drug trafficking charges protested her innocence yesterday, as a defence lawyer lobbied for her release.

Ouk Vandath, the lawyer of 13-year-old Vann Srey Khuoch, told Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials yesterday that his client had been held in prison after being charged on March 28 with drug trafficking charges.

The sixth grade student at Trapaing Krasaing Primary School in the capital’s Dangkor district was arrested along with six other people when three houses were raided by police in Meanchey district on March 26.

“Vann Srey Khuoch is a minor and an innocent girl, but she has been arrested and jailed for more than one month. I think that it is very unjust,” Ouk Vandath said yesterday.

Last week, the lawyer wrote a letter to the president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court requesting him to re-investigate the case and release the girl from jail.

When interviewed by The Post, the teenager said she was arrested while visiting her older sister, who worked as a karaoke hostess in the capital, in order to ask for money to buy books for her studies. “I
wanted to ask for some money from her to buy [some books], as well as to get money to buy rice for my family because she works in Phnom Penh,” she said.

“I am innocent. I was not involved nor did I commit the crime as accused. I would like to ask the court to release me so that I can go back to my parents and continue my studies,” she added.

Ker Sakhorn, Vice-President of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said yesterday that the court had already received Vann Srey Khuoch’s letter.

“I think that if the victim was mistakenly arrested or she is [found to be] innocent, she will be released after a re-investigation is finished,” he said.  

Kuoch Chamroen, Meanchey district governor, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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