Businessman Gets 8 Years for Drug Crimes

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday sentenced businessman Tan Seng Hak to eight years in prison for trafficking and using drugs and also handed down six-year sentences to four of his accomplices.

Reading out the verdict, pre­siding Judge Kim Dany said the court had found the defendants guilty of trafficking drugs from Mr. Seng Hak’s large villa in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmei commune.

“The court has decided to sentence Tan Seng Hak, 50, to eight years in prison for drug trafficking and use. So Riya and Sieng Chanthy were sentenced to six years each for drug trafficking, and Long Chhekou and Kong Rayuth, who were charged as accomplices, have been sentenced to six years in jail each,” Judge Dany said.

She added that Sin Chanraksmey’s charge of accomplice was changed and she was sentenced to one year in prison for having knowledge of criminal activities but not reporting them to police.

“The court decided to change the charge of Sin Chanraksmey from accomplice to drug trafficking to not filing a criminal compliant,” Judge Dany said without elaborating.

She said that the illegal substances found at Mr. Seng Hak’s villa in a police raid on November 27, 2012, included a total of 1.5 kg of cocaine and methamphetamine, 150 grams of an unidentified white powder, three scales for weighing the drugs, and 10 other pieces of paraphernalia used to consume drugs.

Mr. Seng Hak said the verdict was unfair as he exited the courtroom on Friday, adding that he will appeal.

“[The court’s] decision is wrong because I didn’t commit the crime. Police put the packages of drugs in my house themselves, so this is an injustice for me,” he said.

Police said at the time of the arrests that they had been monitoring drug activities at Mr. Seng Hak’s home for two weeks. During the raid, they fired shots into the air as the dozen people in the house tried to escape over the walls of the compound, but all were arrested.

During his two-day trial in September, Mr. Seng Hak had admitted to using drugs but said that police had forced him to confess to drug smuggling in ex­change for the release of his 22-year-old son, who along with his wife was among 12 people arrested in the initial raid at his home.

Mr. Seng Hak has the honorary title of “Okhna,” which is given to businessmen who work with the government, and is a former adviser to Senate President Chea Sim. He was also previously imprisoned in 2007 for illegal land deals.

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