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Gov’t saving Cambodian on death row

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Srey Neang has been sentenced to death by a Vietnamese court for drug trafficking. VNA

The Kingdom will apply all legal means to defend a Cambodian drug trafficker being sentenced to death in Vietnam and she could be swapped in a newly ratified convict transfer treaty.

Miech Srey Neang, 27, from Phnom Penh was convicted and sentenced to death in July by Vietnam’s Tay Ninh Provincial People’s Court after being found guilty of trafficking drugs from Cambodia to Vietnam.

With legal assistance from the Cambodian government, Srey Neang in August had appealed against the Vietnamese lower court decision within the appeal period.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that case is still processing with legal assistance from the Cambodian government.

“So far, the Cambodian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has provided suitable lawyers for her,” he said. “This means that our lawyers will help with the case and other matters for Srey Neang.”

“The lawyers will defend her at all stages, from the Appeal to the Supreme Court,” he added.

However, Kuong said both Srey Neang and the Cambodian Consulate General did not receive information from the Vietnamese side when her trial will begin at the Vietnamese higher court.

Contacted yesterday, a Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working closely with Vietnam on the case.

He said implementation of the newly ratified Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the Kingdom and Vietnam is among one
of their choices.

The Ministry of Justice announced recently that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed it that the treaty would come into effect on October 1.

The National Assembly in March last year adopted a draft law on Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between Cambodia and Vietnam, which is four years after Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc witnessed the signing of the treaty.

“[The Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons] is the basis for consideration. This means that we will use all means, including the provision of legal aid, defending her in the Vietnamese court and the implementation of the agreements that we have with the Vietnamese side,” Malin said.

Malin explained that the treaty can be implemented after a final verdict, along with bilateral negotiation.

“In principle, the treaty means that there is a final verdict and that the convict must serve her sentence in another country,” he said. “In accordance with the agreement, the transfer is based on negotiations after it enters into force.”

According to a report by Vietnamese state-run media, VNA, Vietnamese police arrested Srey Neang “red-handed” carrying the drugs at the Moc Bai International Border gate in southern Tay Ninh province on December 2 last year.

She was accused of smuggling methamphetamine weighing over 4,943 grammes, which were found when her luggage was scanned upon her entry.

According to Vietnamese law, anyone convicted for smuggling over 600 grammes of heroin or more than 2.5 kilogrammes of methamphetamine will face the death sentence. Those caught making or trafficking 100 grammes of heroin or 300 grammes of other illegal drugs also face death upon conviction.

The Cambodian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City told Khmer Times recently that with the coordination of the Consulate General, Srey Neang filed an appeal on August 6.

The Consulate General said 15 days after receiving the appeal, the Tai Ninh Provincial People’s Court will refer the case to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s High Court.

“The Cambodian leadership, especially the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Justice paid close attention to this case and instructed the Consulate General to regularly monitor and find ways to protect the accused,” the Consulate General said.

It said it has been actively working to the best of its ability and responsibility to protect the interests of the nation and its people in accordance with the law.

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