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Widow busted on drug charge

THE wife of a Funcinpec army officer, killed in factional fighting last February

in Battambang, has been arrested on heroin charges.

In Manyda, widow of Col Keo Panharith, was caught with 4.4 kgs on Apr 9 at her home

in Russey Keo district according to Phnom Penh anti-drug police chief Heng Peo.

"In fact, this family has been smuggling drugs for a long time, but we could

not arrest them because we did not have enough evidence," Peo said. "If

he [Col Keo Panharith] was not dead he would also have been arrested and put in jail."

Peo declined to give details of how police knew of the couple's drug-dealing activities

in the past, but said that his officers had been investigating the two for a long

time. He claimed the heroin had been smuggled from Thailand and was destined for

the United States.

"I don't like to name any political party which is related to the drugs ...

I just say the drug smuggler," he said, adding that there were more generals

involved in the case.

Peo - whose comments came amid a Funcinpec-CPP dispute over a Sihanoukville marijuana

haul - did not name the generals or their party.

Battambang provincial army deputy commander Prak Sokheoun, who served with Panharith

since 1992, said that he did not believe his former colleague was involved in drug

smuggling.

He described the accused's family as poor, living in a small thatched house in Tuol

Kork, adding that he always provided rice from his unit to support them.

Manyda was a lottery-ticket seller who appeared to have little means of support,

Sokhoeun said. "If Panharith was a drug smuggler before he died, why didn't

his wife have any money for his funeral ceremony," he said.

He strongly denied that Panharith and Manyda had anything to do with smuggling while

the husband was alive.

"I'm sure that Panharith and his wife had nothing to do with the drug business,"

he said. "But I am not sure about his wife after her husband died."

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