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Two sentenced over drug bust

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted one Cambodian and one Chinese national on drug trafficking and storing charges, while at the same time dropping the charges against a Vietnamese woman initially thought to be an accomplice.

Presiding judge Seng Neang sentenced Chinese national Le Hay Penh, 31, and Cambodian Puo Chhun, 33, to seven years in jail each, and fined each of them 12 million riel (about $3,000) under Article 40 of the drug law. Le’s Vietnamese girlfriend, Nguyen Thily, was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

“The court acquitted Nguyen, 24, of keeping and trafficking drugs, and gave [the others] the right to appeal within the law,” Neang said.

Nguyen, who was pregnant at trial – and who appeared with her newborn baby in court yesterday – said at the October 24 hearing that though she had known Le for four years, she had only been at his house for two days when it was raided, and was not involved with his drug business.

According to the evidence presented in last month’s trial, police in March raided a suspected drug trafficking site in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang II commune, in Chamkarmon district, arresting three people and confiscating 39 pieces of methamphetamine, 543 pieces of Ecstasy and 18 grams of an unidentified narcotic powder, along with some drug paraphernalia.

In the hearing, Le told the court the drugs came from someone named Siv Minh, and that his house was simply being used as pickup point for Chhun to collect them.

“Seven thousand dollars belongs to Puo Chhun, and I don’t get any commission for the drugs,” he maintained at the time.

Chhun denied the allegations at trial, saying he used to buy drugs from Siv Minh for his own use, but had only bought the drugs in question after being told do so by a man named Ly – an undercover policeman.

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