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Appeal court hears case of two meth traffickers

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Drug cases were brought to PP court's hearing yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Appeal court hears case of two meth traffickers

The Appeal Court on Monday heard the case of two men from Koh Kong province who were sentenced in 2015 to 10 years imprisonment for trafficking in methamphetamine.

The Supreme Court had upheld a previous Appeal Court ruling but referred the case back to the Appeal Court believing there had been a misinterpretation of Article 88 of the Criminal Code.

Article 88 stipulates that “if a person against whom a final judgement has already been entered for a misdemeanour commits the same misdemeanour within five years, the maximum sentence of imprisonment incurred for the new misdemeanour shall be doubled”.

Presiding Judge Kim Dany said that before his arrest on June 15, 2015, Sam Phearum, 25, who lived in Village 3 in Khemarak Phoumin town’s Smach Meanchey commune, had asked Loeun Mom, from Veal Veng commune, to purchase approximately $200 worth of illegal drugs from Puthi Van Vithou, 33.

Van Vithou delivered nine small packages of drugs to Phearum on Mom’s orders, the judge said, but police were only able to arrest Phearum and Van Vithou.

Koh Kong provincial court on December 27, 2015, sentenced the pair to 10 years in prison and fined each five million riel (about $1,250) for drug trafficking and committing the same misdemeanour for which they had already been sentenced.

The convicted men then filed a lawsuit at the Appeal Court to have the verdict overturned, but the matter was rejected.

Phearum and Van Vithou then filed a complaint to the Supreme Court, which on April 27, 2016, upheld the Appeal Court’s verdict but ordered the court to review the case to see if it had misinterpreted Article 88.

Judge Dany said Phearum had been imprisoned twice already for theft. In 2010, he was sentenced to one year and he was subsequently given another 18 months.

Van Vithou had been sentenced to one year in prison for fraud, Dany said, and five years for theft.

“We both filed a lawsuit asking the court to reduce our sentence because 10 years in prison is too long. We ask the court to reduce our prison sentences,” the two convicts said at the trial.

Defence lawyer Vong Phanet told The Post on Thursday that his two clients, whom Koh Kong provincial court sentenced to 10 years in prison each, should, according to Article 40 of the Law on Drug Control, only be given a five-year sentence.

“Now that the case has been returned by the Supreme Court, I ask the Appeal Court to review the case and release my clients,” Phanet said.

Judge Dany said the court verdict would be announced on June 13.

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