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Witness says convicted drug dealer is innocent

A woman sentenced to three years in prison for dealing drugs last year told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday she had been falsely convicted.

Mao Mach, 41, was convicted in absentia and fined four million riel (US$1,000) after going into hiding in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.

Police later found her in the Boeng Tumpon commune and she was jailed in February last year.  

During Mao Mach’s appeal hearing yesterday, her lawyer, Top Chhunleng, told the court her client had been falsely incriminated on the testimony of Van Chantou, who was convicted during Mao Mach’s trial of buying drugs and was given the same sentence.

“There was no proof to demonstrate that my client had been involved in, or had committed, the offence as accused,” Top Chhunleng said.

She called on witness Yam Chantheth, who told the court: “I have known Mao Mach since many years ago. She was a rice seller; she was not a drug dealer. Police arr-ested the wrong person.”

Mao Mach proclaimed her innocence and called the conviction an “injustice”.

Deputy prosecutor Heang Sopheak said Mao Mach had been convicted of drug dealing on a separate charge in 2009 and imprisoned for 10 months.

“I would like to maintain the 2011 decision of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against her,” he said.

Presiding judge You Bunna said a verdict would be handed down on February 28.

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