Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday re-sentenced a Belgian man who was sentenced to life in prison in absentia in June for trafficking more than one kilogram of cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport in January.
Tanguy J. Taller, 36, a tourist convicted of drug trafficking together with accomplice David Catry Noel, 37, also a Belgian tourist, was again sentenced to life in prison yesterday after requesting a retrial.
Judge Chhoem Rithy said Mr Taller was convicted of transporting drugs and trafficking, noting that Mr Taller was arrested on October 4 at the Cambodia-Vietnam International Checkpoint in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city, after which he requested a retrial while in prison.
“Although the accused has denied the allegation and said that he was not involved, he did not prove to the court that he’s innocent,” Judge Rithy said. “Based on real evidence, the court upholds the June 22 sentence and finds him guilty and sentences him to life in prison.”
Mr Taller, who was present in court yesterday, broke down in tears after hearing his sentence.
He said the judgement was unfair and again denied the allegations, adding that he will file an appeal with the Appeal Court.
“It was an injustice. I do not accept my sentence,” Mr Taller said. “I will appeal to a higher court because I did not commit anything I was accused of.”
Upon seeing Mr Noel, who told Cambodian authorities that the drugs did not belong to him, Mr Taller attempted to assault Mr Noel, but bailiffs intervened.
“You lied to the court and the court convicted me to a life sentence,” Mr Taller said.
Mr Noel testified against Mr Taller on December 5 and said that the drugs belonged to Mr Taller.
In court, Mr Noel said he was paid by Mr Taller to bring the drugs to an unidentified Nigerian national in Cambodia in January.
“Mr Taller promised to pay me to bring drugs from Brazil to Cambodia – money I haven’t received,” he said. “Mr Taller arranged the flights, transportation and accommodation.”
Mr Noel was arrested on January 10 by anti-drug police and customs agents at the airport. Police found about one kilogram of cocaine hidden within his suitcase.
In June, Mr Noel and Mr Taller were sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking. In July, the court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Taller, who was not in the country at the time.