Phnom Penh Muniipal Court yesterday retried a Belgian man who was sentenced to life in prison in absentia in June for trafficking more than one kilogram of cocaine from Brazil to Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport in January.
Presiding Judge Chhoem Rithy identified him as Tanguy J. Taller, 36, a tourist convicted of drug trafficking together with accomplice David Catry Noel, 37, also a Belgian tourist.
Judge Rithy said that Mr Taller, who was not present during the trial on June 22, and Mr Noel were each sentenced to life in prison.
He said that Mr Taller was later arrested on October 4, 2018, at the Cambodian-Vietnamese-International Checkpoint in Svay Rieng province after he crossed the border into Bavet city.
He said that Mr Taller was sent to the municipal court for questioning on October 5 and the investigation judge sent him to prison the next day to serve the life sentence handed to him in absentia.
Judge Rithy said that after he was sent to prison, Mr Tanguy denied trafficking drugs and wrote to the court requesting a retrial.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Taller again denied the charges against him.
He confessed that he knew Mr Noel, but he did not know about his trafficking of drugs or his personal businesses.
“The reason why I have requested the judges to conduct a retrial is because I did not agree with my sentence,” he told the court. “I did not commit any wrongdoing as alleged.”
“I met Mr David Catry Noel when he visited Brazil in June but I did not hire him to carry drugs for me as he has accused,” he said. “I do not know anything about this case. Please drop the charge and release me.”
Mr Noel testified yesterday that drugs seized from him on January 10 in Phnom Penh belonged to Mr Taller.
Mr Noel told the court that Mr Taller hired him for $3,000 to bring the drugs to an unidentified Nigerian man living in Cambodia, where he was then arrested with them at Phnom Penh International Airport.
“Mr Taller promised to pay me $3,000 for the fee of transporting the drug seized from Brazil to Cambodia,” he said. “He arranged and paid all expenses, including flights and food, transportation and accommodation.”
A verdict is due December 19.