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Foreigners face drug charges

Foreigners face drug charges

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A deputy prosecutor yesterday asked Phnom Penh Municipal Court to punish five men that police say are “experienced international drug dealers” and their female Cambodian co-accused over a drug bust in the capital.

Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
A suspected drug trafficker covers his head with a pink towel while leaving Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Two Guinean men, Bah Mamadou, 23, and Nabe Alhassane, 34;  two Nigerian men, Obieze Keneth Uche, 35, and Emeka Obi, 38; Sierra Leonean James Kamara, also known as Calim, 34; and Cambodian woman Hou Vanna, 31, were charged with trafficking drugs.

The six were arrested on July 24, 2011, at a rental house in Tuol Kork district’s Teuk La’ak III commune and are accused of smuggling almost 350 grams of methamphetamines.

Ly Sophana, deputy prosecutor for Phnom Penh Municipal Court said all six should be severely punished.

“Although they were trying to hide their activities of drug dealing or they had not confessed to their crimes, the representing prosecutor considers that there is enough evidence to prove they committed the crimes,” he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Chith Chan­tha, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug trafficking police, told the court yesterday that the five foreign suspects were international drug dealers who had chosen Cambodia as a place to hide.

Cambodia’s anti-drug police had received reports of drug trafficking activities from US police based in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2010, he said.

“They were all experienced international drug dealers,” he said. “They were arrested while exchanging drugs inside a rental house”.

After the suspects’ arrests, police seized 339.9 grams of ya ma (methamphetamines), three mobile phones and an assortment of drug-related material, Lieutenant-Colonel Chith Chantha said.

All six defendants denied trafficking drugs and asked the court to drop the charges and release them.

Kamara, who shared the rental house with Hou Vanna, his girlfriend, said he had not been aware the drugs had been hidden inside.  

“I was first aware of it when I was handcuffed by police and they showed the drugs to me,” he said.  

The verdict will be handed down on January 31.