Two Nigerian men and a Cambodian woman went on trial yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly trafficking more than two kilos of ecstasy from Belgium to Cambodia last year.
Onu Abel Michael, 29, Okeke Sabinus Chimankpa, 24, and Mean Veansa, 42, were charged with drug possession and trafficking and face a life sentence each if convicted.
Presiding Judge Chea Chansodeth said they were arrested on November 16 and 17 last year by Interior Ministry anti-drug police in Sen Sok and Meanchey districts.
Deputy prosecutor Sok Bun that on November 15, anti-drug police, in collaboration with custom and excise police at Phnom Penh International Airport, seized a package of ecstasy weighing 2,054 grams hidden in a shipment through the DHL transport company which had been sent by air from Belgium.
He added anti-drug police set up a scheme to arrest the suspects.
“The accused Mean Veasna was arrested when she came to pick up the package of drugs from the police at the DHL company on November 16,” Mr Bun said. “Based on her confessions, police arrested the other two at their rental house in Stung Meanchey commune. They were arrested on the basis of strong evidence.”
During yesterday’s trial, the three accused denied the allegations. They asked the judge to drop the charges and release them.
Ms Veasna said that she was a widow with three children and lived in Stung Meanchey commune.
She said that on the day of her arrest, she was paid $300 by Mr Michael to collect the package.
“I did not know that the package contained drugs. If I had known, I would not have accepted the work,” she told the court. “I found out there were drugs in the package after I was arrested and police showed it to me.”
“I am innocent,” she added. “I would like to ask the court to drop the charges and release me.”
Mr Michael said he paid $300 to Ms Veasna for having sex with him. He denied hiring her to collect the package. He also denied that he was the owner of the package.
“I was not the drug trafficker. I would like to deny completely the accusation because I did not commit anything I’m accused of,” he said. “I did not have any connection with drug trafficking.” Mr Chimankpa said that he had known Mr Michael and Ms Veasna but did not know about their activities or relationship.
He said he had been arrested because he was with Mr Michael on the day police raided the rental house.
‘I knew nothing about this case. I did not have any links to drug trafficking,” he said.
A verdict is due on June 22.