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Foreigners sentenced to life over postal ecstasy shipment

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The foreigners leave the courthouse during their hearing last month. KT/Pann Rachana

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday sentenced two Chinese nationals to life in prison after they were found guilty of importing 18 kilograms of ecstasy from Germany via the post office last year.

Judge Ek Polofil identified the two as 41-year-old Chang Sih Shun and 37-year-old Hua Yu Cheng. Both men were arrested on July 10, 2018.

Judge Polofil said Mr Chang, general manager of a Chinese-owned garment factory, and Mr Hua, a tourist, were found guilty of drug transporting and trafficking.

“Although they denied the allegations, saying they were not traffickers nor the owners of the drugs seized, they did not provide evidence to convince the court to have the charges dropped,” he said. “Therefore, the court has decided to convict and sentence them to life in prison. They are also ordered to pay 50 million riels [$12,000 each] to be put in the state’s coffers.”

Say Nora, deputy court prosecutor, previously said internal security police in June last year intercepted two boxes at the Daun Penh Post Office weighing 20 kilograms each. The shipments were sent from Germany.

Upon opening the boxes and inspecting their contents, internal security police discovered 18.41 kilograms of ecstasy pills hidden inside.

Mr Nora noted the boxes were addressed to Chhean Sokpov, alias Heng, but the phone number listed was Mr Chang’s. He said Mr Sokpov was a Chinese language interpreter for the two suspects.

Mr Nora said police collaborated with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor and post office workers to apprehend the suspects.

He said the post office workers were told to contact Mr Chang and have him pick up the shipments at 2pm that same day.

Mr Nora said Mr Chang told Mr Hua of the shipments and both men picked up Mr Sokpov from his home in Chamkar Mon district before showing up at the post office at 3pm.

“While at the post office, Mr Chang and Mr Hua asked Mr Sokpov to fill documents under their names because they did not speak or write in Khmer,” he said, adding that Mr Hua and Mr Chang left the post office. “While Mr Sokpov was with a post office worker to receive the shipments, both suspects left. Mr Sokpov was told by Mr Hua on the phone to bring the shipments to them.”

Mr Nora said Mr Sokpov was arrested after completing the forms and questioned by police.

He said Mr Sokpov collaborated with police to apprehend Mr Chang and Mr Hua.

Later on, Mr Sokpov called Mr Hua and informed him that the shipments were received.

Mr Hua told Mr Sokpov to take a tuk-tuk and bring the shipments to a garden near Naga World Hotel in Chamkar Mon district’s Tonle Bassac commune at 4pm.

Mr Nora said police tailed the tuk-tuk, which eventually led them to Mr Hua.

“Police arrested Mr Hua after he took the shipment from Mr Sokpov,” he said. “After the arrest, police plotted to arrest Mr Chang.”

Police ordered Mr Sokpov to call Mr Chang and meet him for the shipment.

Mr Chang was arrested at about 6pm in front of Phnom Penh International Airport after receiving the shipment from Mr Sokpov. Mr Sokpov was then released after both men were arrested.

Mr Nora said Mr Sokpov was not involved because he was hired as an interpreter by Mr Chang and Mr Hua.

During their hearing last month, Mr Chang and Mr Hua denied the charges.

Mr Chang told the court he was asked by an unidentified Taiwanese man to pick up the shipments at the post office two days before the suspects were arrested.

He said after receiving the call from the post office, he told Mr Sokpov to help him interpret the receiving documents.

Mr Chang said he borrowed a car from a friend and brought Mr Hua and Mr Sokpov to the post office.

He said he was later arrested after meeting Mr Sokpov.

Mr Chang added that after his arrest, the unidentified Taiwanese man disappeared and could not be contacted.

“I don’t know anything about this case. I was not the owner of the shipments,” he said. “If I had known the shipments had drugs in them, I would not have picked them up from Mr Sokpov. I would not have let the police arrest me. I would have fled.”

Mr Hua told the court that he was arrested because he was accompanying Mr Chang at the post office.

He said he did not know the Taiwanese man.

“I did not know anything about this case,” he said. “Please find the truth and justice for me.”

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