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Court upholds life sentences for foreign national drug dealers

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The men serving life in prison for drug trafficking. DAP News

The Court of Appeal on Friday upheld the life sentences of two foreign nationals for transporting nearly five kilos of cocaine from Brazil into Cambodia at the Phnom Penh International Airport in 2016.

Pak Chansambo, a judge with the Appeal Court, identified the two men as Adrian-Calin Varadi, 40, a citizen of Romania and Chukwuemaka Ibe, 35, a citizen of Nigeria.

Judge Chansambo said the two men were arrested on August 14, 2016 by anti-drug police in collaboration with the Customs and Excise and Immigration Police at Phnom Penh International Airport, when authorities seized five kilograms of cocaine.

“After the appeal hearing and consideration by the court’s judges council, the Appeal Court has decided that the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 9, 2017, was right and was in accordance with the laws,” Judge Chansambo said. “Therefore, the court decides to uphold the decision.”

According to Colonel Sin Sophal, deputy director of a drug intervention office, the two men were arrested after customs officers checked the luggage of Mr Varadi and found 14 packages of cocaine.

Col Sophal said that Mr Varadi later revealed that the packages were meant for Chukwuemaka Ibe, a man travelling from Thailand to meet him in Cambodia. Police arrested Mr Ibe at the City Centre Hotel in Phnom Penh the same evening.

Both men denied the allegations made against them and claimed that they were not trafficking cocaine.

Mr Varadi claimed the drugs belonged to an unidentified Nigerian man living in Brazil. He claimed the man hired him to transport cocaine in exchange for $6,178 per kilo after the exchange with Mr Ibe was made.

“The reason why I decided to accept this work was because I needed the money. The owner of the drugs promised to pay me $6,178 per kilo of cocaine,” he said.

Mr Ibe claimed he was paid $300 from his Nigerian acquaintance named “James” living in Bangkok in order to receive “a package” in Phnom Penh.

“But I didn’t know the package contained cocaine. If I had known, I would not have accepted it,” he said.

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