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Traffickers’ final pleas heard

Eight Vietnamese nationals, including four women, accused of drug production and trafficking had their last chance yesterday to plea their innocence as the case wrapped up.

Presiding judge Sous Sam Ath spoke directly to one of the suspects, 51-year-old Sok Dara, who attempted to convince the court he was not involved in drug trafficking.

“You are a drug producer and a trafficker. You are a skilled producer here in Cambodia, not Vietnam, otherwise you would receive a lifetime imprisonment,” the judge said.

Sok Dara was arrested on July 10, 2011, at the Monireth Hotel in Phnom Penh and was allegedly found with three packages of crystal methamphetamine.

However, during the trial in late April, Sok Dara attempted to pin the drug trafficking charges on his wife.

Director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department San Vuthy said Sok Dara and another suspect, 32-year-old Ngean Yangtong, were arrested as the result of a long investigation involving undercover officers, who had purchased drugs from the suspects.

He added that after Ngean Yangton’s arrest, he had led police to his residence in the capital, where the remaining suspects, all of whom are Vietnamese nationals, were arrested.

Police then confiscated several packages of crystal methamphetamine, as well as equipment used to produce drugs.

Judge Sous Sam Ath identified the other suspects as Lam Fong, Den Sokchea, Ngean Tity, Miny and Den Kimheng.

Prosecutor Heang Sophak said the suspects’ pleas of innocence were an attempt to escape a jail sentence and insisted they were guilty.

The verdict is due on June 19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lieng Sarith at sarith.lieng@phnompenhpost.com

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