Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US man dies in custody in S’ville



US man dies in custody in S’ville

Police inspect hundreds of tablets, packets and bottles of drugs during raids that led to the arrest of five foreigners in Preah Sihanouk late last year.
Police inspect hundreds of tablets, packets and bottles of drugs during raids that led to the arrest of five foreigners in Preah Sihanouk late last year. Photo supplied

US man dies in custody in S’ville

One of five foreigners arrested in Sihanoukville on Christmas Eve for drug production, trafficking and possession, died in custody on Friday afternoon.

US citizen Michael Grafman, 52, was brought to the Sihanoukville Referral Hospital on Thursday, where he died of “drug abuse and chronic renal failure” the next day, according to his death certificate.

Doctor Sim Pheakdey said that “when he was transferred in, he was conscious, but disoriented ... We tried to help, but his condition was too serious.”

Pin Sokhom of Friends International’s Mith Samlanh program, which sometimes works with addicts, pointed out that inmates could suffer withdrawal symptoms if they were addicted to drugs and not given sufficient health care.

This was echoed via email by Choub Sok Chamroeun, executive director of NGO Khana, who doubted that prisons were sufficiently equipped to deal with those health risks.

He added that it could be life threatening if a drug user’s health history was unknown to prison staff – something that needed to be changed, he said, for health care providers to be able to respond quickly in case of emergency.

Medical care should include, for example, “daily dosing for methadone maintenance therapy (MMT)” in place of heroin injections.

He added that the government needed to take this issue into account in its current drug crackdown initiative. “I have no objection to the Anti-Drug Campaign of the government, but in the meantime, the right to health care of those addicts need [sic] to be ... provided [for] ... through international best practices,” he said.

“Using the legal measures will not help the drug addicts to stay abstinence [sic] or giving up the use of it,” he added.

After the arrests, Grafman was charged with drug production and trafficking, while three others were charged only with trafficking, according to local anti-drug department police official Sun Sophat.

Czech media reported that charges of trafficking against a Czech national had been dropped to possession. The last person arrested in the group, a Finnish national, was released after questioning by the court and blood tests came back negative.

Attempts to reach provincial police and the US Embassy by phone yesterday were unsuccessful. Sam Sophal, chief of the Sihanoukville prison, declined to comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and