Three foreigners went on trial yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly bringing more than a kilo of cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia.
Fortune Egwuonwu, 33, from Nigeria, Nancy Lela Meyer, 32, from the United States, and Tippapat Mueanchan, 30, from Thailand, were accused of trafficking the drug which was found at Phnom Penh International Airport.
Presiding Judge Ros Piseth said all face up to a life sentence if convicted.
Mr Piseth said Ms Meyer were arrested on August 31 last year after she flew from Brazil, via Dubai and Hong Kong, to Phnom Penh.
“She was arrested after custom officers inspected her luggage and found drugs hidden under the bottom of the luggage,” the judge said. “After her arrest, police seized a total of 1,237.5 grams of cocaine from her.”
Based on Ms Meyer’s answers, police arrested Mr Egwuonwu and Ms Tippapat the next day when they came to a hotel room to meet Ms Meyer, he added.
Judge Piseth said they came to the hotel to pick up the drugs which were to be sent to Thailand.
In court yesterday, the trio denied the allegations and asked for the charge to be dropped.
Ms Meyer said the cocaine belonged to an unidentified Nigerian man who lived in Brazil.
She said that because she was travelling to Cambodia, the unidentified Nigerian asked her to bring luggage from Brazil for his Nigerian friend who lived in Phnom Penh.
She said that the unidentified Nigerian paid her air tickets, visa, food and accommodation from Brazil to Cambodia. She said she had inspected the luggage, but did not see any drugs.
“I agree that I brought the luggage with me from Brazil. But I did not know that there were drugs hidden inside,” she told the court. “If I had known, I would not have accepted the work.”
“I was not the owner of the cocaine seized by police. I would like to ask the court to find the truth and justice for me,” she added.
Ms Tippapat said that on the day of her arrest, she was paid $300 by a Nigerian man known as Ouche, who lived in Bangkok, to pick up luggage from his Nigerian friend in Phnom Penh.
She told the court that according to Mr Ouche, she would be contacted to receive the luggage after she arrived in Phnom Penh.
“But I was later arrested by police after I was called by an unidentified Nigeria man to meet and receive the package from him at a hotel in Phnom Penh,” she said. “After my arrest, police showed the drugs to me and accused me of being its owner.”
“I am innocent. Please drop the charge and release me,” she added.
Mr Fortune said that he too was innocent. He did not know about the case or have any involvement in it.
He said that on the day of his arrest, he was called by his girlfriend, Ms Meyer, to bring food for her at the hotel.
“I was not a drug trafficker. I did not know anything about this drug trafficking. Please release me,” he said.
A verdict is due October 4.