The Appeal Court on Monday upheld guilty verdicts against four people who were sentenced to between 20 and 30 years in prison for drug trafficking in the capital.
Reading out the verdicts in absentia, Judge Yun Narong said: “In the drug trafficking case involving four convicts, the Appeal Court decides to uphold the sentence.”
According to court records, Chhieng Chumnoul, 44; his wife Bou Eav Peng, 40, a Thai national and the owner of Malis Angkor Restaurant in Siem Reap province; Pheng Phal, 45; and El Vanrany, 37; were arrested in Chamkarmon district’s Tumnub Toek commune on February 27, 2012 for dealing in one kilogram of drugs.
The Interior Ministry’s anti-drug authority intercepted the trafficking in both Tumnub Toek and Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune, arresting four people and seizing 373.2 grams of Yama, 296.4 grams of methamphetamine, 1113.2 grams of WY and two cars.
On January 25, 2013, the Phnom Penh municipal court sentenced Chhieng Chumnoul to 30 years in prison and imposed a fine of 60 million riel ($15,000); his wife Bou Eav Pheng to 20 years and a fine of 40 million riel ($10,000); Pheng Phal and El Vanrany to 20 years and a fine of 40 million riel ($10,000) each under article 32, 40 and 44 of the anti-drug laws.
At the Appeal Court, Pheng Phal said he was a car mechanic and lived with his uncle Chhieng Chumnoul. Before his arrest, he received a phone call from a man known as Barang asking him to bring a car for a check.
At the time, Phal passed the car key to Barang who returned it along with a package containing $20,000.
“When police arrested and frisked me, they found nothing. When they took me to the Interior Ministry and detained me for two days, they showed a package and told me it was a drug package.
“Then they told me to thumbprint a white paper and said if I complied, they would allow me to go back home, so I agreed to do just that,” Phal said.
The other three convicts said they had not committed any crimes as charged, pleading with the Appeal Court to release them.
Defence lawyer Heng Chanvuth said there were many suspicions in the case. Police, he added, had no concrete evidence and just lured his clients to offer their thumbprints with the promise of a release.