Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted two Vietnamese women and sentenced them to 22 years each in jail for transporting nearly one kilogram of methamphetamine from Cambodia to Australia via a shipping company.
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.
Judge Sao said both were charged with drug possession and trafficking after they were arrested in Chamkar Mon district on October 15 last year by the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police department.
“The court has decided to convict and sentence both to 22 years each in jail,” Judge Sao said. “The court has ordered them to pay 40 million riel [about $10,000] each to put into the state budget.”
Deputy prosecutor Sith Vanank said that at about 4pm on October 15 last year, staff working with shipping company DHL in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune, seized a suspicious package containing a toy bear from two Vietnamese women who intended to send it to Australia.
Mr Vannak said the staff alerted undercover police officers stationed at the branch to inspect it. Officers found white powder inside the toy bear, which was identified as methamphetamine.
Police then arrested the two women in their rental home in Chamkar Mon district’s Boeng Tumpon commune.
“They were arrested after they had sent almost one kilogram of drugs to Australia via the DHL company in Phnom Penh,” Mr Vannak said.
He added that police seized a large package of crystal meth weighing 961.90 from them.
Ms Dara declined to comment yesterday.
Ms Ting said the judgement was unjust because she did not know anything about it or had anything to do with Ms Dara’s activities.
Ms Ting said she will appeal to the Appeal Court to overturn the ruling.
“It was very unjust,” Ms Ting said. “I do not agree with the court’s judgement because I am not a drug trafficker and I did not commit the crime.”
“To find truth and justice, I will appeal,” she added.
Ms Ting noted that on the day of her arrest, she had just arrived from Vietnam to visit her daughter-in-law Ms Dara and her child in their home.
She added that she was arrested at about 5pm in October last year after police raided Ms Dara’s house, where she was staying.
During the trial on July 18, Ms Dara admitted committing the offence. However, she told the court that the drugs seized did not belong to her, but to a Vietnamese man named Hai.
Ms Dara noted 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,” Ms Dara said. “But I did not know that there were drugs inside.”
“I only knew about it after I was arrested. I was very surprised when police showed the seized drugs to me,” she added.