Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-colonel tried on heroin charges

Ex-colonel tried on heroin charges

Ex-colonel tried on heroin charges

A former military colonel and a Vietnamese woman were tried by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on accusations that they tried to send 12 kilograms of heroin to Australia by mail.

According to presiding judge Suos Sam Ath, So Rith, 53, formerly of the general infantry command at the Ministry of National Defence, was arrested in November 2012, the same day as Nguven Vanthanh, a 44-year-old Vietnamese national allegedly involved in the international drug trafficking plot.

“They were arrested by police after they have brought a total of four cases of goods in which heroin was hidden, and tried to send them to Australia via Wat Phnom Post Office in Phnom Penh,” Sam Ath said.

Rith and Vanthanh allegedly lined four cases of Yinshin wine with packages of heroin totalling 12 kilograms. Post office staff notified police of the packages after the two dropped them off, said Lieutenant Colonel Un Rithy, deputy chief of the Internal Security Police Office in Ministry of Interior.

After receiving the tip from the post office, police tracked down Rith and Vanthanh separately, Rithy said.

Police pulled Rith over in his car as he drove to King Luck Hotel in Prampi Makara district’s Boeung Prolit commune. Vanthanh was arrested at the Sorya Bus Station in Phnom Penh, where she was waiting to board a bus to Vietnam.

Both suspects denied any involvement in drug trafficking during their court hearing yesterday.

“The reason why I went to the post office on that day . . . was because I was asked by Nguven Vanthanh to interpret because she could not speak Khmer, and she wanted to send the goods to Australia,” Rith said in court. “I was told that the goods, which were sent via the post office to Australia, were Yinshin wines.”

Vanthanh said she was sending the wine for a Vietnamese-Australian man – who was not arrested – and was unaware of the heroin inside the boxes.

“I was not the drug trafficker or the owner of these goods seized,” Vanthanh said. “They belonged to a man named Chun Chenda … he has asked to send it for him to Australia.”

Verdicts and sentences will be handed down July 3.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,