A 14-year-old boy in jail since August is set to spend at least another three weeks there despite prosecutors admitting in court yesterday that a substance found on him during his arrest was not methamphetamine as believed.
The teen, Thy Visal, was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district more than three months ago when police saw him distributing packets of a substance they initially believed to be meth.
In court yesterday, Visal said that the substance was aluminium sulfate, used for purifying water, a fact supported by test results confirmed by prosecutors.
He said he was persuaded to sell the substance to unsuspecting drug addicts by a man named Chanthan, who is a co-defendant in the case, but still at large. “I sold Sa Chou [aluminium sulfate] for two weeks, about seven or eight times. Chanthan told me to do so and gave me 10,000 riel [about $2.50] each time,” Visal said.
Chanthan, who is suspected to be close with Visal’s family, convinced the boy to sell the substance for him to pay his grandmother’s medical debts.
Visal previously admitted that customers believed they were buying drugs, according to an anti-drug department report read aloud in court.
Prosecutor Sin Vireak said that the defendant couldn’t be charged and left the decision in the hands of the judge.
“Based on the test result, Article 40 of the Drug Law does not apply. And as the accused is underage. Please, let the judge decide,” Vireak said.
Despite the prosecution’s concession, Visal will remain in prison until the verdict is delivered on December 28.