Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Alleged Prey Sar dealer tried

Alleged Prey Sar dealer tried

Chan Sopheak (right), 19, accused of selling methamphetamines inside Prey Sar prison,  exits Phnom  Penh Municipal Court yesterday while handcuffed to another prisoner.
Chan Sopheak (right), 19, accused of selling methamphetamines inside Prey Sar prison while incarcerated for other crimes, exits Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday while handcuffed to another prisoner. HONG MENEA

Alleged Prey Sar dealer tried

Three current and former prisoners were tried in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly distributing drugs inside Prey Sar prison – in a rare instance of such a crime being prosecuted.

Chan Sopheak, 19, Chum Sokneak, 23, and Chhorn Lin, 22, stand accused of running a small methamphetamine distribution ring inside Prey Sar Correctional Centre II last year. Sopheak is currently in prison, on a six-year sentence for attempted murder, while the other two were released early this year after serving four years for robbery and remain at large.

“They were prisoners who had been convicted by the court from four to six years each with robbery and attempted murder and they were detained in prison, but they did not cease to commit crimes and were able to use drugs and distribute drugs in the prison,” Judge Keo Mony said at court.

He then lambasted the police and prison officials for releasing Lin and Sokneak, even as a new charge was pending.

Speaking at court, prison guard Ith Sam Ath said the ring was discovered last July when the men were on a routine work detail.

“While other prisoners were collecting and cleaning up garbage in the prison, they were caught using the drugs near the gate of the prison. And, when we checked their bodies, we found and confiscated a small package of methamphetamine powder in Chan Sopheak’s trouser pocket,” he told the court.

At his trial, Sopheak admitted he had carried and used the drugs, but said they belonged to Sokneak. He also denied any involvement in distributing.

“I accept that I really used the drugs and shared them in prison on that day, but they did not belong to me. They belonged Chum Sokneak,” he said.

Vice-prosecutor Kong Sam Sareth asked the court to uphold the charges. If found guilty, each man will face between two and four years in prison and a fine of four million to 10 million riel ($1,000 to $2,500).

Kuy Bunsorn, director-general of the General Department of Prisons, and Prey Sar prison director Srun Leang could not be reached for comment.

Drug use in prisons is believed to be rampant, though there is little concrete data.

In 2011, two guards at two separate prisons were found guilty of smuggling and allowing inmates to smuggle drugs into the prison.

At least half a dozen friends and family members were arrested this year alone for trying to bring prisoners meth.

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Tourist arrivals up by 12%

    Cambodia welcomed more than three million foreign tourists in the first half this year, an increase of 12.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, official data from the Ministry of Tourism said. Leading the way in the rise were Chinese and Vietnamese tourists.