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Vietnamese teen sentenced

Chong Kim Ngok, 16, leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being sentenced to six years in prison over drug trafficking charges yesterday. Rights groups say 412 minors are now being held at Prey Sar Prison.

A 16-year-old Vietnamese girl was among five people sentenced to between three and 12 years in jail for drug trafficking yesterday.

Chong Kim Ngok, 16, was handed a six-year jail sentence and a 10-million-riel fine (US$2,500) at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

In the same case, a 48-year-old Vietnamese woman, Vin Tha, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Vy Srey Oun, 34, was given three years. Two men, 30-year-old Khy Bunsan and 40-year-old Ly Sovannara, were both give 10 year sentences.

Fines ranged from 5 million riel to 20 million riel.

“Based on the hearings, evidence and answers of the five suspects, the court has found that they had really been involved in committing drug abuses and drug trafficking in Cambodia,” presiding judge Ke Sakhorn said.  

Some 412 minor inmates were being held at Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Centre 2 as of June last year, CC2 director Chat Sineang said, with 380 either being held on robbery charges or having been convicted of robbery.

Figures distributed last year by local rights group Licadho revealed 829 child inmates in 15 correctional facilities nationwide, along with 54 children of inmates.

The five suspects sentenced yesterday were arrested between May and July last year in Chamkarmon and Meanchey districts in Phnom Penh. In more recent months, police have stepped up enforcement of drug-related offences, a push heralded by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a speech last month.

“If we are busy doing something else, [criminals] do their activities,” Hun Sen said.

“They know the Government is focused on foreign invasion, so they commit drug and logging offences,” he added, referencing recent border tensions with Thailand.

During the arrest of Ly Sovannara, Vin Tha and Chong Kim Ngok on July 30, police seized two kilogrammes of illegal drugs, a Lexus car, a motorbike and drug paraphernalia.

During the arrest of Khy Bunsan, who was arrested at the U&B Coffee shop in Tonle Bassac commune, police confiscated 100 yama pills and US$3,000.

Following the hearing, held yesterday, Ly Sovannara said the verdict was “unjust” and vowed to appeal.

Phnom Penh Deputy Police Chief Pen Rath said 259 people had been arrested in drug-related cases in the capital in the first two months of this year. Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said more than 100 raids had been carried out in the same time period.



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