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Drug trial under way

Tan Senghak (centre) was arrested by municipal police during a raid at his home in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last year
Tan Senghak (centre) was arrested by municipal police during a raid at his home in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last year. PHA LINA

Drug trial under way

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday began hearing the drug-trafficking trial against Tan Senghak, a former adviser to Senate President Chea Sim who was busted in a drug raid last year – allegedly while hosting what police characterised as a meth party.

Senghak, 50, faces trafficking charges, while co-defendants So Ravy, 28, Chhin Chanthy, 30, Long Chheko, 27, Kong Rayvuth, 30, and Sin Chan Reaksmey, 25, were charged as accomplices after being swept up in a raid that yielded a small package of meth, a large package of cocaine and myriad pieces of drug paraphernalia.

Senghak maintained on Friday, as he has in the past, that he was simply an addict, not a trafficker, and that the drugs found in his house had been planted by police.

“I would like to admit that I was only a victim of drug use, and I had used it for many years. But I was not a drug distributor or trafficker,” he said.

“The drugs found in my house belonged to an anti-drug police officer named Soeung Nol,” he added. “I did not recognise them.”

Senghak went on to criticise police behaviour during and after the raid, accusing them of confiscating valuables from his home and extorting money from his family.

“Police have taken $20,000 from two Chinese people staying in my house, and have extorted about $3,000 from my family in exchange for releasing my son,” he said.

Co-defendants Chheko and Rayuth also maintained their innocence, and said they were beaten by police in order to extract confessions and testimony that could be used against Senghak.

However, Colonel Soeung Nol, chief of the anti-drug police office in the Ministry of Interior, denied the accusations, and said an undercover agent had infiltrated Senghak’s home by posing as an addict.

“They were raided and arrested by police while they were purchasing drugs with our police agent inside their house,” he said.

The trial will continue on September 16.

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