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Vietnamese-Australian woman jailed 30 years over drugs

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Xinhua/Ajith Perera

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced an Australian-Vietnamese woman to 30 years in jail and fined her about $20,000 for trying to smuggle nearly two kilograms of heroin from Cambodia to Australia at Phnom Penh International Airport last year.

Presiding Judge Khun Sokna, identified her as Tran Ve Thi, 39, a tourist.

She was charged with possessing and transporting drugs under article 40 of the Cambodian Law on Control of Drugs.

“Based on the hearing and evidence, the court found the accused Tran Ve Thi’s guilty and decided to convict her and sentence her to 30 years in prison,” Judge Sokna said. “The court also ordered her to pay 80 million riles [about $ 20,000] to put in the state’s budget.”

Judge Sokna added that Ms Tran was arrested on January 6 last year at the Phnom Penh International Airport. After her arrest, police seized nearly two kilograms of heroin from her.

During Ms Tran’s trial on April 9, Lieutenant Colonel Hun Sothy, the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Transnational Crimes Department’s deputy chief, told the court that she worked for an international drug trafficker and had previously transported drugs from Cambodia for sale in Australian casinos in 2017.

He said that on January 5 last year, Australian police informed Cambodian police of her activities and requested she be arrested.

Lt Col Sothy noted that at about 8.30am on January 6, Ms Tran left the Diamond Palace Hotel in Chamkar Mon district, carrying a red suitcase, and travelled by tuk-tuk to Phnom Penh International Airport.

He said that Interior Ministry police, who were keeping tabs on her, trailed her from the hotel to a check-in counter at the airport.

Lt Col Sothy said that when she was checking in, police and a municipal court prosecutor X-rayed her suitcase.

“She was arrested red-handed at Phnom Penh International Airport after police inspected her suitcase and found the drugs hidden inside it,” he said. “We found and seized 1,755.50 grams of heroin wrapped in plastic and hidden at the bottom of her suitcase.”

Ms Tran yesterday said outside the courtroom that the judgement was unjust because she did not own the drugs seized by Cambodian police.

She said that the drugs belonged to two unidentified Vietnamese men living in Phnom Penh and who are at large.

“It is an injustice. I do not accept the sentence and will appeal,” Ms Tran added.

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