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Two foreigners tried over drug charges

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried two Vietnamese women for transporting nearly one kilogram of methamphetamine from Cambodia to Australia via a shipping company in the capital.

Presiding Judge Kov Sao identified them as Chan Dara, 27, who worked with Gaza Club in Daun Penh district, and her mother-in-law, 55-year-old Tam Hiu Ting. They were both charged with drug transporting and face between 20 and 30 years each in jail if convicted.

Judge Sao said the accused were arrested by the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Police Department on October 15 last year in Chamkar Mon district.

He noted that at about 4pm that day, staff working with shipping company DHL in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune seized a suspicious package containing a toy bear from the two Vietnamese women who intended to send it to Australia.

Judge Sao stated that after inspecting the item, the staff found a large package containing white powder hidden inside the toy bear. The staff soon alerted an undercover anti-drug trafficking police officer stationed at the company, who immediately inspected the package and identified the white powder as methamphetamine.

Police forces, in collaboration with the prosecutor of the municipal court, later arrested Ms Dara and Ms Ting in their rental house in Chamkar Mon district’s Boeng Tompon commune.

“They were arrested for sending almost one kilogram of drugs to Australia via DHL company in Phnom Penh,” Judge Sao said. “Following the arrest, police seized a large package of methamphetamine weighing 961.90 grams from them.”

During yesterday’s trial, Ms Dara admitted committing the offence. However, she also told the court that the drugs seized did not belong to her, but to a Vietnamese man named Hai.

Ms Dara said that on the day of her arrest, she was asked by Mr Hai, who was her friend and who worked with her at Gaza Club, to send the toy bear to his friend in Australia via DHL. She then took a taxi to carry the box to a DHL branch located in Toek Thla commune.

Ms Dara said she did not know about the drugs, and only found out after she was arrested, when police showed it to her.

“I acknowledge that on the day of the arrest, I took the box from Mr Hai and brought it to DHL. But I did not know that there were drugs inside,” she said.

“I only knew about it after I was arrested,” she added. “I was very surprised when police showed the seized drugs to me.”

Ms Dara said that after she was arrested, she telephoned Mr Hai, who could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Ms Ting denied the allegations, telling the court that she did not know anything about the case.

Ms Ting said that on the day of her arrest, she had just arrived from Vietnam to visit her daughter-in-law Ms Dara and her one-month-old child in their home.

Ms Ting added that she was arrested at about 5pm after police raided Ms Dara’s house, where she was staying.

“I don’t know anything about this case,” she told the court. “And I don’t know anything about Ms Dara’s activities.”

“I am innocent and falsely arrested and accused by police and the court,” she added. “I would like to request the court to drop the charge and release me from prison so that I can return to my family in Vietnam.”

A verdict is due on August 1.

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