Court denies Vietnamese national’s plea for clemency

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A prison van arrives with inmates at the Supreme Court. KT/Khy Sovuthy

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the sentence of a Vietnamese national convicted of drug trafficking.

Presiding Judge Khim Ponn said 19-year-old Chan Thi Ni Han was arrested in 2011 by the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police department in Russey Keo district, charged with drug trafficking and production, and sentenced to 28 years in jail by Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

He noted she then filed for an appeal at the Appeal Court, which denied her petition to have her conviction overturned.

“Supreme Court Judges’ Council has checked, considered and inspected, all related documents to this case,” Judge Ponn said. “The Court acknowledges that even though [Ms Chan] denied her involvement in this case, she did not provide new evidence to show the court.”

“The court acknowledges that the judgement made on August 12, 2015 by the Appeal Court was correct and made in accordance with Cambodian [laws],” he added. “Therefore, the Court has decided to uphold the judgement of the Appeal Court.”

During her Supreme Court hearing on July 2, Judge Ponn said Ms Chan was arrested with her Swedish boyfriend Ekenlund Nickie Christopher Cookie on June 20, 2011 at about 1.30pm.

Their arrests came following the confessions of four Cambodians, who were detained earlier that day after they sold drugs to an undercover police officer in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune.

The Cambodians were Meas Sophea, Som Borin, Yos Kunthy and Duch Chhorvon.

Judge Ponn said the four confessed during police interrogation that the drugs sold to the undercover officer were obtained from Ms Chan and Mr Nickie.

After the couple was arrested, police seized 241.80 grams of hashish, 222.40 grams of marijuana, 209.6 grams of methamphetamine, 297.70 grams of cocaine, 98.8 grams of ecstasy, along with chemicals and other drug materials.

Judge Ponn added that Mr Nickie and Ms Chan were sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to 28 years in prison each on March 18, 2012, with fines worth about $15,000, while the Cambodians were given six years in prison each, and fined about $3,750 each.

According to Judge Ponn, the six filed for clemency at the Appeal Court in 2012, but their convictions were upheld in August 2015.

Judge Ponn said the Cambodians and Mr Nickie stopped appealing, but noted that Ms Chan took the case to the Supreme Court.

Defence lawyer Tho Navy yesterday told Khmer Times that the decision to uphold Ms Chan’s sentence was an injustice because she was a victim and was forced to sign a false confession.

During her hearing, Ms Chan said she had known her boyfriend since 2009.

She said the two lived together, but she never took or sold drugs, noting that she did not know about the drugs seized from their home.

“I knew nothing related to this case, but police arrested my boyfriend and I and accused me of being co-owner of the drugs seized from my rented home,” Ms Chan said. “After the arrest, police forced me to put my thumbprint on their report, but I didn’t know what it said because I don’t read Cambodian.”

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