A Belgian national sentenced to life in prison for being involved in the trafficking of more than one kilogramme of cocaine from Brazil in 2018 is appealing to have his conviction overturned after claiming innocence.
Judge Seng Sivutha identified the Belgian national as Eddie J Taller Tanguy, 36.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Tanguy guilty of “drug transporting and trafficking” under Article 40 of the Law on the Control of Drugs in absentia in 2018 and sentenced him to life in prison.
The Phnom Penh court ruled Tanguy was connected to David Catry, owner of a restaurant in the capital, who was sentenced to life in prison after he was arrested with one kilogramme of cocaine at Phnom Penh International Airport in January 2018.
At yesterday’s appeal hearing, Tanguy said the ruling handed by the lower court was unjust because he was not involved in Catry’s drug activities.
He said he first came to Cambodia in 2012 as a freelance designer.
Tanguy said he often frequented Catry’s restaurant, but did not know him well.
He said he was arrested on October 4, 2018, at the border in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city by immigration police after returning from Vietnam.
“When I checked in at the Cambodian-Vietnamese International Checkpoint, a Cambodian immigration police officer detained me and accused me of being a drug trafficker. I was surprised,” Tanguy said.
“Police then transferred me for detention at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug trafficking department in Phnom Penh and asked me about David’s allegation against me,” he added.
Tanguy said he was sent to court on October 6, 2018, and one day later, Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed the life sentence.
“I was innocent and not a drug trafficker,” he said. “I would like to ask the Appeal Court to overturn the ruling and release me from prison so I can reunite with my family.”
A court clerk during the hearing yesterday read out Catry’s testimony against Tanguy.
The clerk said Tanguy hired Catry for $30,000 to transport the drugs from Brazil, to be given to an unnamed Nigerian national in the Kingdom.
“Tanguy promised to pay me $30,000 to transport the drugs that were seized after the work was done,” Catry said, as quoted by the clerk. “Tanguy arranged the travels and paid for flights, food, transportation and accommodation.”
Catry said he was later arrested after he has arrived and checked in at Phnom Penh International Airport on January 10, 2018.