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Drug trafficker’s sentence upheld by Appeal Court

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Anti-drug officials destroy 64kg of illicit drugs in the Phnom Penh in June. Heng Chivoan

Drug trafficker’s sentence upheld by Appeal Court

The Appeal Court on Thursday heard a case against a man who was sentenced by the lower court to 10 years in prison on drug trafficking charges.

Kem Ly, 40, was arrested for dealing drugs in the capital’s Dangkor district last year.

At the trial, Ly said a man named Thy from Dangkor commune’s Cheung Ek village asked him to bring a bag to another man in May last year with a promise of $50.

He was handing the bag to the unidentified man at Borey Lay Kong on National Road 3 when police arrested him.

“I didn’t know the bag contained drugs so please reduce my sentence because I have small children who need support for their studies,” Ly said.

However, his account contradicted the police report, which said that before his arrest, anti-drug police from the Ministry of Interior worked undercover and pretended to order 500 grams of methamphetamine from him.

In February this year, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Ly to 10 years behind bars and ordered him to pay a 25 million riel ($5,250) fine under Article 40 of the Law on Drug Control.

Appeal court prosecutor Tan Senarong said the lower court’s decision was just.

“The quantity of addictive substance was 137%, so I ask that the court uphold the earlier verdict,” he said.

Defence lawyer Chuon Sethsamphors said his client admitted his guilt, so the charge against him is too severe. “The court should change the charge from drug trafficking to an act of receiving interests from the transaction instead,” he said.

Judge Yet Molin, head of the presiding council, said a verdict would be delivered on September 11.

A report from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) released at a workshop in Siem Reap province earlier this year said that in the first six months of this year, police had arrested a total of 13,748 drug suspects, including 9,720 consumers, 4,181 of whom have been rehabilitated and released.

Of the 5,539 consumers who are still being detained, 3,231 are receiving treatment at public health institutions while 2,308 have yet to be treated.

Law enforcement enforcers have intercepted 1,144 cases of drug consumption, with 2,620 consumers arrested.

NACD deputy secretary-general Chey Bopha said drug consumers in the country who are aged 18 to 35 years old make up 83 per cent of the total number of drug consumers.

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