A 28-year-old Venezuelan woman went on trial in Phnom Penh Municipal Court accused of bringing nearly three kilos of cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia.
Presiding judge Theam Chanpiseth said tourist Mejias Neilin Coromoto was arrested in February last year by Interior Ministry anti-drug police in collaboration with custom and excise and immigration police at Phnom Penh International Airport.
Ms Coromoto was charged with drug transportation and trafficking. She faces from 30 years to life in jail if convicted.
Mr Chanpiseth said that after her arrest, police seized about three kilos of cocaine from her.
Court deputy prosecutor Long Cheap said Ms Coromoto was not the drug ringleader but she was hired by a Nigerian suspect named Jonatun, who is still at large.
Her job was to bring the cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia. The drugs were to be taken across the border to Thailand.
Mr Cheap said Ms Coromoto confessed to police that Jonatun promised to pay her 30 percent of the wholesale value of the cocaine if she succeeded in bringing it to Cambodia.
“She was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport after customs police checked her suitcase and found many packages of cocaine in powder form hidden inside,” he said.
In court yesterday, Ms Coromoto denied the allegations. She said her answers at the police station were untrue. She had made them up because police threatened her and forced her to confess.
However, she agreed that she had been involved with the cocaine in her suitcase.
She said the packages belonged to Jonatun, her friend who lived in Brazil. He put them in her suitcase and asked her to give them to his unidentified Nigerian friend in Cambodia.
She did not know who the friend was.
She added that when Jonatun put the packages in her suitcase, she did know they contained drugs because she did not check them.
She only found out about the cocaine after she was arrested and police showed it to her.
“I was not the owner of the cocaine seized from my suitcase,” she told the court.
“When I was arrested, Jonatun’s friend could not be contacted.
“I was not a drug trafficker. I was innocent. I would like to ask the court to drop the charges and release me so that I can return to my family in my country,” she added.
A verdict is due on June 14.