Foreigners Accused of Running Underground Drug Network Acquitted in Expedited Trial

Jack Laurenson / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Two foreigners were surprisingly released from the custody of authorities last week, despite having been caught with substantial amounts of marijuana.

In a surprising act of swift justice that has raised eyebrows amongst the expatriate community around the Kingdom, American bar owner Yanale Demyanov and Swedish bar-worker Blakej Bujar were released from custody in Kampot last week. 
Roughly 48 hours after their arrest during a high-profile drug raid led by multiple high-ranking officers – reportedly the culmination of a six-week investigation – the duo was tried and released with a suspended sentence. 
Whilst Mr. Demyanov himself shot down allegations of corruption and praised Kampot police for their professional work, others in the community alleged that bribes had potentially been paid to secure the duo’s swift release. 
Prosecutors meanwhile have declined to comment on why the sentences were suspended, why all fines had been waived and what had vastly accelerated the entire legal process. 
Speaking to Khmer Times after his release from custody last Friday, Mr. Demyanov said he was “perfectly satisfied” with the outcome, and labeled Kampot’s cops as “the best servants this town could ask for,” adding that he had “no comment” on the rumors being spread that a $5,000 bribe had been paid. 
Whilst the allegation has been stated by a number of sources close to and in the Kampot community, Khmer Times has not been able to independently confirm if any bribes were paid.  
One source with detailed inside knowledge of the processes at Kampot’s Provincial Court alleged that paying bribes is routine.
When asked if he felt fortunate to have secured his liberty so quickly, Mr. Demyanov was despondent, however. 
“My kidneys hurt from sleeping on concrete and I can’t smoke weed. Super fortunate,” he said.
Mr. Demyanov, 36, owner of the popular Fat Cat bar, and Mr. Bujar, 26, were initially arrested on Tuesday morning last week. 
Dozens of police officers raided their bar, seizing 494 grams of dried marijuana and marijuana oil that the duo were allegedly known to be supplying locally and that cops suspected they had been selling over the counter. 
Following news of the arrest, an atmosphere of awkward silence and apparent censorship descended upon a popular Kampot social media group. 
According to many residents – some of whom said they were banned from the group for trying to talk about the drug bust – multiple articles, comments and entire conversations were repeatedly purged from the Kampot Noticeboard, prompting allegations of censorship. 
“This news made the national papers but is repeatedly being censored from this board,” argued one angry resident, calling on admins to justify the repeated deletions. 
“I posted this challenge in the group because I saw it as blatant censorship of the whole issue,” said another Kampot resident. “Then I noticed I had been banned, too.”
While some residents labeled the alleged censorship “suppression of information,” other Kampot residents said that admins were attempting to protect the privacy and dignity of the accused men, which the media had not, according to them. 
One group admin argued that they had the right to run the noticeboard as they pleased, and reserved the right to delete posts they regarded as gossip or that were “deemed provocative,” prompting allegations of hypocrisy when others pointed out that plenty of other “gossip” frequently remained undeleted. 
Mr. Demyanov has sided with the group’s admins and expressed thanks to them for deleting articles, alleging that newspaper coverage of his arrest in Kampot and past charges related to drugs in other countries was “slanderous and inaccurate.”
Last year, during the coverage of the rape and sexual assault allegations against Nicholas Laycock at the Arcadia Backpackers Hotel, certain elements of the community were accused of closing ranks and attempting to suppress critical coverage of the event. 
At that time, multiple newspaper articles, conversations and posts were also deleted from the Facebook group in question, prompting allegations of a cover-up. 
This Khmer Times reporter made a further attempt to speak with members and admins of the Kampot Noticeboard group this week, only to notice that he too had been banned without any notification or reasoning.

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