Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

TWO men accused of exporting three kilogrammes of heroin to Australia via a Phnom Penh’s central post office saw their trial conclude yesterday, with a verdict due later this month.

Kor Vandy, presiding Judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that 44-year-old karaoke shop owner Ma Sitha faced charges of exporting drugs internationally, and his personal driver, Mao Sothea, 46, was implicated as an alleged accomplice.

They were arrested on August 6 last year at Ma Sitha’s shop locating in the Spar Thmey II commune of Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district and were charged on August 9.

“They are drug traffickers. They sent a total of three kilograms of heroin from Cambodia through the post office to Sydney, Australia, in 2010. They were arrested based on the reports and cooperation of Australian police,” he alleged.

He added that that Ma Sitha had allegedly sent a large package of drugs, with his name and address written on it, via a post office in Phnom Penh to a client in Australia.

The drugs were found by post office staff in Sydney who notified police, he said, who then sent a report to police in Cambodia who arrested the two suspects.

Ek Chheng Huoth, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, alleged in court that the two men were also drug users and had committed additional drug trafficking activities in Cambodia before they were arrested.

“There is enough proof to charge that they both had been involved and committed the international export of drug from Cambodia to Australia as accused,” he said. “I would like to ask the court to strongly punish and jail them.”

Ma Sitha and Mao Sothea denied their charges during a hearing yesterday and said that they knew nothing about the package.

“I am not a drug trafficker. I did not know about the package sent from Cambodia to Australia and I have never been involved with drug trafficking as accused,” Ma Sitha said.

“I think that someone had put my name and personal address on the package in order to blame it on me. So I would like to ask the court to drop the charges against me and release me.”

Mao Sothea made similar claims yesterday: “I was only Ma Sitha’s driver. I did not know about the package. I have also never been involved with both drug abuses and drug trafficking. I am an innocent person and I would like to ask the court to release me.”

Kor Vandy said that their verdicts would be announced on June 30.

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