Lao Meth Dealer Sentenced to Life in Prison

A Laotian man accused last year in Phnom Penh of possessing more than 3 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and tablets of meth mixed with caffeine known locally as yama was sentenced on Friday to life in prison.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Presiding Judge Top Chhun Heng also ordered Phom Malath Khamponh, 37, to pay a fine of 80 million riel, or about $20,000, on charges of drug possession and trafficking.

Defense lawyer Tep Monycheat disputed the case submitted to the court and said he would appeal the verdict. “For my client, there is no evidence from police or the prosecutor,” he said. “My client had no hold on the drugs.”

At Mr. Khamponh’s trial last week, he testified that the drugs police produced on June 29, 2016 did not belong to him. He said he came to Cambodia as tourist, was detained and a half an hour later, a van arrived with a case filled with drugs that police said belonged to him. He said he was forced to thumbprint documents he did not understand.

Preung Pheap, a deputy in the anti-drug police unit at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug trafficking department, said secret police pursued the defendant for a week before they finally made a drug deal with him. He said police confiscated 1.9 kg of crystal meth and 1.14 kg of yama, a tablet stamped with the logo WY.

He said the drugs were sent by taxi to Phnom Penh from Stung Treng province and police arrested Mr. Khamponh after he received the shipment and turned it over to secret police.

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