The Supreme Court yesterday heard the appeal of a father and son sentenced to 15 years in prison after they were found guilty of producing and trafficking methamphetamine in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district in 2011.
Presiding Judge Kong Srim identified the two as 58-year-old Sok Dara and his 26-year-old son Den Sokchea.
Judge Srim said Mr Sokchea was arrested on July 10, 2011 along with his sisters after the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police raided their home in the district’s O’Russey III commune.
The siblings were identified as Nguyen Thy Thy, Sok Kimmy, Mi Ni and Den Kimheng. Judge Srim noted that Hem Van, Mr Dara’s second wife, was not arrested because she fled the scene.
He said that after the raid, police seized 112.71 grams of methamphetamine, a machine that produced drugs, scales and other drug-related materials.
Judge Srim said after they were questioned at the Interior Ministry, they revealed that Mr Dara, who was already spending time in Prey Sar prison for a prior drug conviction, was involved in the drugs confiscated from their home.
He said on April 19, 2012 Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Mr Dara, Mr Sokchea, Ms Kimmy and Ms Mini to 15 years in prison after they were found guilty of producing drugs. They were also ordered to pay $2,500 each to be put in the state’s coffers.
Meanwhile, Ms Thy Thy and Ms Kimheng were sentenced to five years each for drug trafficking.
He said all of them filed an appeal with the Appeal Court on April 25, 2012, but it upheld the municipal court’s ruling in a decision made in March this year.
Since then, Ms Thy Thy and Ms Kimheng have already been released from prison, and Mr Dara and Mr Sokchea are now appealing to the Supreme Court. Ms Mini died in 2015 as she was serving her sentence.
Mr Dara during the hearing yesterday told the courtroom that he was serving time for a January 2011 conviction when the raid at his home happened. He said he was sentenced to two years in prison for using drugs and trafficking.
Mr Dara said there was no way he could have been involved because he was already serving time in prison. He said the real perpetrator was Ms Van, his second wife.
“I would like to confess that Ms Van was my second wife, but I did not know about her activities, nor the fact that she kept drug-making materials in the house,” he said. “I was in jail when the raid occurred. I was innocent. I would like to ask the court to release me because I am not guilty.”
Mr Sokchea told the court that he was not involved in the drugs found. He said his father and step-mother rented the home, but he did not live there.
Mr Sokchea said he, along with Ms Van and his sisters, were celebrating the Ghost Festival.
“I was an injustice to me – I did not know anything or committed anything, but the court convicted me and sentenced me to 15 years in prison,” he said. “I have been in prison for more than eight years. Please find truth and justice for me and release me.”
Ouk Piseth, a deputy prosecutor, said even though the duo proclaimed innocence, they did not provide enough evidence to prove they were not involved.
“Based on the evidence seized by police at their home in O’Russey III commune, I acknowledge that the Appeal Court’s ruling on March 14, 2019 was correct and made following the law,” Mr Piseth said. “Therefore, I would like to ask the judges’ council to uphold the ruling.”
A verdict is due on October 30.