MORE than half the heroin seized by police in a February raid was allegedly missing
at a presentation of the evidence at the Phnom Penh municipal court this week - but
it was all a simple mistake, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Phnom Penh's municipal police drug chief Heng Po claimed eight kilograms of heroin
were seized in the raid near Tuol Tom Pong Market.
But Ministry of Interior officials presented just over 2.7kg to the court for weighing
and initial analysis on Tuesday.
The case raised speculation about untoward handling of narcotics evidence, and highlighted
tension between municipal and Ministry of Interior anti-drug police officers.
"Ten minutes before the drug raid on Feb 29, I was surprised to learn that elements
within the ministry's anti-drug department asked to cooperate in the raid, indicating
they had prior knowledge about it," Po told reporters after the court session.
"At the time we seized eight kilograms of heroin and one man involved in smuggling
the drug confessed to this amount.
"We arrested three culprits, one policeman and two others who were military,
but I believe these men were later released and apparently only six kilograms of
heroin was then sent on to the ministry," Po added.
Two men later arrested in the case are now in prison awaiting trial.
Interior Ministry Chief of Security Yeng Marady, who this week presented sealed packages
of heroin for inspection by the court, said the discrepency was because of an error
"At the time of the seizure the heroin was measured on the scales and the ministry
was informed the amount was six kilograms," Marady said later.
"The packages were kept completely sealed, untouched and the weighing scales
were also kept.
"Today I escorted the evidence to the court and when measured again it was six
pounds or 2.5 to 2.7 kilograms so it appears the error occurred when police confiscating
the drug measured it as six kilograms not six pounds."