A 51-year-old Australian national sentenced to five years in prison for possessing 40g of methamphetamine in Sihanoukville on Monday requested the Supreme Court to quash his conviction.
“I ask the Supreme Court to free me because I did not possess any drugs as accused by the police,” Dino Rossetto said, explaining during the hearing that he and his family, including four children, had opened a restaurant in Sihanoukville.
He came to know a Cambodian man named Tiger, who bought a motorcycle from him, paying for it in instalments.
On one occasion in 2017, Tiger came to Rossetto’s rented apartment to pay an instalment on the motorcycle and introduced him to his girlfriend, who Rossetto claimed worked as a prostitute.
Tiger was supposed to pay $100 per month but only gave him $10. The couple then invited him to use drugs with them in Rossetto’s apartment.
Later, on September 4, 2017, he was arrested by Preah Sihanouk provincial anti-drugs police in a public park after officials said they had found a small plastic bag containing a white powder near to where he stood.
“I asked the police at the time to show me the drugs, but they did not do so,” Rossetto said.
Police then searched his apartment, finding a package containing 40.87g of a white powder, which the officials said was an illegal substance.
Rossetto told the judge on Monday that he had never kept any drugs inside his apartment and suspected Tiger of having placed them there.
He recounted the earlier occasion when Tiger and his girlfriend, who Rossetto also claimed worked as an informant for the police, came to his home to pay an instalment on the motorbike.
The Australian man asked Tiger and his girlfriend to leave by the rear entrance. Rossetto said this was likely when Tiger had hidden the drugs later found by police.
Tiger was arrested for drug dealing in a separate case. He is currently being held at Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, the court report stated.
The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court found Rossetto guilty under Article 40 of the Law on Drug Control on January 23 last year and sentenced him to five years in prison. He filed a complaint with the Appeal Court, which upheld the verdict.
Rossetto then hired two defence lawyers, Ly Heng and Men Bora, to appeal his case at the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Chhuon Chantha said that after reviewing the case, the appellant had been found guilty based on the facts. He said he believed the lower court’s verdict was correct and just.
“I ask that the Appeal Court’s ruling be upheld,” he said.
Defence lawyer Ly Heng said all his client’s problems originated with Tiger. He had owed money to Rossetto, who had no need to be involved with drugs as he had been running a legitimate business.
“I would also like to ask the court to take into account my client’s mental condition – for which he has a letter of confirmation from a doctor in Australia – when overturning the conviction,” he said.
Presiding Judge Khem Bun said the court’s ruling will be announced on July 8.