A defence lawyer told the Supreme Court on Monday that officers from the Phnom Penh municipal police drugs unit used a fake document to implicate his client in a 2015 trafficking case.
Meng Ratanak, 33, was convicted in absentia by the court for dealing drugs after 24 packets of methamphetamine were discovered at a rental room in the capital’s Sen Sok district.
Five people were arrested at the scene but Ratanak was not one of them. He has been in hiding from police ever since.
An ID card purportedly belonging to Ratanak was used by police to implicate him in the case, while a witness came forward to say he was a drug dealer.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Ratanak to five years inprisonment and ordered him to pay a 10 million riel fine ($2,500) for drug trafficking and using illicit substances in violation of articles 40 and 44 of the Law on Drug Control.
The other five defendants were found guilty of using drugs and sentenced to four years in prison for their role in the crime.
Ratanak’s defence lawyer Chuong Choungy told the judge that his client had lost his ID card in 2012, something corroborated by local authorities.
He said his client reported the loss of his ID card on April 6, 2015 – more than two months before the drug bust occurred – to Kandal province’s Kandal Stung commune authorities.
The local authorities issued a letter confirming that Ratanak’s ID card had been lost since June 26, 2012.
Twenty four packets
On June 14, 2015, police found 24 packets of methamphetamine in a rental room in Sen Sok district’s Teuk Thla commune.
Choungy said the letter from the Kandal Stung commune authorities showed his client no longer used the ID. Therefore, he said, Ratanak could not have been involved in this drugs trafficking case.
“I don’t know where police chief Eav Phearith from the Phnom Penh municipal police’s anti-drug office got my client’s ID card to use as evidence to charge him in this case."
“[Phearith] used a copy of an ID card as false evidence and arranged a witness to accuse my client of being a drug dealer,” Choungy said.
Supreme Court Prosecutor Chan Dara Raksmey said: “The witness said that the suspect [Ratanak] was the drug dealer, so I asked the court to uphold the verdict of the Appeal Court.”