The Appeal Court yesterday heard the appeal case of a couple serving seven-year sentences after police discovered more than 300 grams of methamphetamine hidden within their motorbike seat compartment in 2017.
Presiding Judge Chan Daravan identified the couple as 30-year-old Nou Raden and his girlfriend 27-year-old Sao Sreyleak. They both hailed from Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district.
Judge Daravan said they were both arrested on National Road 4 in Kandal province on May 31, 2017, on their way home from Phnom Penh.
She said the couple arrived at a checkpoint on a motorbike and were stopped by police.
Police searched their motorbike and discovered about 330 grams of methamphetamine hidden within the seat compartment.
“They were arrested after they were caught red-handed,” Judge Daravan said. “Police discovered a package of methamphetamine weighing 328.48 grams. The drugs were confiscated, along with one mobile phone and one motorbike.”
She said on April 18, 2018, Kandal Provincial Court found them guilty of drug trafficking, sentenced them to seven years in prison each and were told to pay $2,500 in fines to be put in the state’s coffers.
In the same month, the couple filed an appeal with the Appeal Court and requested to have their sentences reduced to three years in prison each and for the court to waive the fines.
The couple during the trial yesterday said the drugs belonged to a man named Phoan who has been at large.
They said Mr Phoan was Ms Sreyleak’s former boyfriend and that he told them to take a package from Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district to an unidentified person in Kampong Speu.
The couple noted they unknowingly took the package without realising drugs were inside.
However, the couple did admit they used drugs and they had been using for a year before they were arrested.
They said the court should reduce their sentences because the drugs did not belong to them and waive the fines because they are not able to afford the payments.
“I would like to confess that I was a drug user, but I was not a trafficker,” Mr Raden said. “The drugs seized from me did not belong to me – they belonged to a man named Phoan who has been at large.”
“When police arrested me, I called Phoan, but he was not able to be contacted,” he added.
Deputy prosecutor Choun Sensathyea argued that Phoan was a name made up by the couple used as an excuse to have the convictions dropped.
“Based on the evidence seized by police from them, in the name of the prosecutor at the Appeal Court, I have decided to uphold the convictions and suggest the judges’ council to uphold the ruling of Kandal Provincial Court,” Ms Sensathyea said.
A verdict is due October 7.