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Former police official pleads innocent to drug charges

Former police official pleads innocent to drug charges

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard a case against an ex-police officer and his alleged accomplice charged with trafficking drugs.

Sam Chansa, a 38-year-old former police official, was arrested in April by undercover agents posing as drug dealers, said Sok Mut, chief of the Anti-Drug Unit at the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Trafficking Department.

“One of our policemen pretended to be a drug buyer, meeting the suspect at a coffee shop,” he said.

“After having seen the money being used to trap him, Sam Chansa called his wife to hand over 225 grams of ‘ice’ drugs [methamphetamine] to a second policeman who pretended to be a drug broker.”

Sok Mut said Sam Chansa’s wife had fled the scene and evaded arrest, allegedly taking the drugs with her.

Huot Seng, 35, was arrested later the same month on suspicion of supplying drugs to Sam Chansa.

Both men pled innocent during yesterday’s hearing, retracting previous confessions that they claimed were coerced during their interrogations by police.

In an initial statement made to police and read by a clerk in court yesterday, Sam Chansa is quoted as saying: “I got involved in the drug business for the first time when I got to know Huot Seng who asked me to sell ‘ice’ drugs for him, worth more than US$40,000. He promised me a commission of $500 for successfully selling the drugs.”

Yesterday, however, he denied any involvement in trafficking, noting that there was a lack of evidence to prove otherwise because police had not confiscated any drugs during his arrest.

“I was not involved with drugs and the police only confiscated my motorbike and 150,000 riel,” he said.

Hout Seng also denied all charges yesterday. “I was not a drug smuggler and I also didn’t give drugs to Chansa to sell for me,” he said.

The pair’s defence lawyer, Nach Try, yesterday called for the case against his clients to be dropped, citing insufficient evidence and accusing police of failing to follow proper procedure.

“I request that they set my clients free as police officials violated the criminal code in their procedure and lack any evidence against my clients,” he said.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said a verdict will be announced January 14.

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