Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dead tycoon blamed in case

Dead tycoon blamed in case

Dead tycoon blamed in case

Convicted drug producer and trafficker Chea Chong, 45, leaves the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh yesterday.

A convicted drug producer yesterday named a tycoon who killed himself in 2007 during an arrest as a trafficking ringleader, at an appeal yesterday.

Lawyers acting for Chea Chong, 45, Chham Nak Chhy, 34, Chhay Khang Ly, 48, who are all serving 25 years in prison, and Ran Yan, 33, who is serving 25 years in jail, appeared at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh.

All four were found guilty in 2008 of drug trafficking and production after a raid on a farm in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district in April 2007. The Appeal Court upheld the verdict last July, a decision that is now being challenged.

Reports at the time of the raid said two tonnes of chemicals were seized, some of which were needed to produce methamphetamines.

Chea Chong said yesterday that he did not know drugs were being held on his land in 2007.

“I did not intentionally commit the offences but Um Chhay persuaded me to run a business to spray chemicals on grass,” he said at the hearing.

Um Chhay, a tycoon and an advisor to National Assembly president Heng Samrin, killed himself by jumping off a five-meter high building when Interior Ministry authorities arrested him for questioning in August, 2007.  

Chea Chong alleged that Um Chhay and Chinese citizen Chin Theanvin, who is also dead, were ringleaders of an operation to import drugs into Cambodia.

All three convicted men said that they had merely worked on the land under Chin Theanvin.

Ran Yan said that she had looked after the land and cooked for the team, but had no knowledge of any drug production.

Prosecutor Chan Dara Rasmey asked the presiding judge to uphold the verdict of the Appeal Court.

He said: “They had a plan and had an organised system and really are guilty.”

Chan Dara Rasmey said  the acts the ring committed could have affected public health and Cambodians suffering from drug addiction.