Soldiers, Woman Sentenced for Drug Trafficking

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced two Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldiers to life in prison and a Cambodian woman to 30 years imprisonment for producing drugs, dealing illicit drugs, and trafficking drugs as well as the illegal use of weapons.

“The court finds them guilty on charges of illegal production of drugs, trafficking and illegal use of weapons,” Judge Keo Mony told the court.

The two convicted men, Keo Saroeun, 52, and Bun Tha, 48, were fined 60 million riel, or about $15,000, while Pov Bopha, 46, was ordered to pay 30 million riel, or about $7,500.

Judge Mony added that the two soldiers are Vietnamese citizens, and he could not explain how they had come to hold positions in the Cambodian armed forces.

The three were arrested in two consecutive raids that saw the arrest of five people—three of them RCAF soldiers—in Chamkar Mon and Tuol Kok districts in December.

During the first arrest in Chamkar Mon, police were engaged in a two-hour long standoff and shoot-out during which one of the suspect soldiers was shot in the leg.

Two more drug traffickers belonging to the same ring were arrested along with drug processing machines in Tuol Kok district.

In total, Judge Mony said that police confiscated 1,554.8 grams of opium, 435.79 grams of cocaine and 2,688.14 grams of heroin, an AK-47 assault rifle, three handguns, three luxury cars, including a black Hummer with an RCAF license plate, drug processing machines and $10,000 in cash.

Pov Bopha, who is still at large, was charged in absentia. Bun Tha and Keo Saroeun, as well as their lawyer, declined to comment after the verdict was announced.

In a separate case, the municipal court Wednesday heard evidence on two Vietnamese and two Chinese nationals accused of trafficking about 1 kilogram of Ketamine and 11 methamphetamine pills.

Yoeun Kimhour, a 32-year-old man from Vietnam, denied any knowledge of the drugs, saying he had only transported a package for Laing Youfa, 52.

“I did not know that drugs were in the package. They didn’t belong to me, they belonged to Mr. Youfa,” a Chinese national, Mr. Kimhour said.

Mr. Youfa, however, said that he had no knowledge of the drugs, and was only meant to take them to Chinese national Sean Yeavin, 47.

Troung Thy Tu, a Vietnamese national employed at NagaWorld, said that she had only helped find a hotel room for the other suspects, and alsohad  no knowledge of drugs.

The court will announce the verdict on February 24.

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