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Woman tried over tainted coffee

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The home where the accused was producing tainted coffee. Kampuchea Thmey

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried the owner of a Vietnamese coffee shop who allegedly used banned chemicals in her products and packed them in an unhygienic way in Prek Phnov district.

Judge Ham Mengse identified the accused as Pov Chanthea, 56, a Vietnamese national who owned Dai Thanh Coffees and Handicrafts, located in the district’s Prek Phnov commune.

Judge Mengse noted that Ms Chanthea was charged with illegally operating a coffee shop, using banned chemicals in her products and also packing them in an unhygienic way. She faces up to three years in jail if convicted.

He said that the accused was arrested on April 27 after anti-economic crime police raided her shop and seized more than 7,000 kilograms of counterfeit coffee products which contained chemical substances.

Judge Mengse noted that because the seized coffee products were harmful to people’s health, they were destroyed by police in May.

During yesterday’s trial, Ms Chanthea admitted the offence, saying that she bought the coffee beans from a Cambodian man in O’Russey Market, but did not know that they contained harmful chemical substances.

Ms Chanthea said that after buying the beans, she blended and packaged them for sale as branded coffee beans to her clients in cities and provinces in Cambodia.

She noted that she began her business in 2017 and produced more than 500 kilograms of coffee weekly.

“The reason why I operated the shop illegally is because I wanted to avoid paying taxes and also money to police and other government officials,” Ms Chanthea told the court. “I acknowledge that I have violated Cambodian laws but I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence and release me.”

“I promise that I will not commit the offence again once I am freed and resume my business,” she added.

Deputy prosecutor Kham Sophary urged the judge to punish the accused severely so that she will not repeat the offence once she serves her sentence.

A verdict is due December 3.

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