Trafficker Linked to Ex-Court Director Convicted

A drug dealer who found himself at the center of a high-profile corruption scandal when it emerged that his SUV has been gifted to the son of ousted Phnom Penh Municipal Court director Ang Mealak­tei was convicted on Friday, but the court said his car must be returned.

Thav Thavy had his Audi SUV seized when he was initially arrested in November for suspected involvement in trafficking narcotics. He was arrested again in February for violating the terms of his bail. 

After Mr. Mealaktei was dismissed amid allegations of serious corruption in February, the National Police released a statement claiming Mr. Thavy’s vehicle had been given to the court director’s son.

Handing down a verdict in the drug trafficking case on Friday, Presiding Judge Seng Leang sentenced Mr. Thavy to two years in prison but said he only had to serve eight months, and ordered that his SUV be returned.

“The court decided to sentence Thav Thavy, 32, to two years but ordered him to serve only eight months of his term for drug trafficking,” Judge Leang said. “The court decided to provide the Audi car back to the owner.”

Srey Chann and Khieu Srey­rath, both 21, were also sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to serve 11 months. The women were arrested in September in Sen Sok district and have been linked to Mr. Thavy.

Judge Leang said that 4.4 grams of methamphetamine were confiscated as evidence in the case. He refuted the pair’s defense, which included claims that their initial statements to police were falsified and that they did not know each other, or Mr. Thavy.

“There was enough evidence on Srey Chann, Khieu Sreyrath, and Thav Thavy of drug trafficking,” the judge said.

Officials from the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), which began investigating Mr. Mealak­tei shortly after his ouster, were present in court and recording the proceedings on video cameras.

Om Yentieng, chairman of the ACU, could not be reached for comment.

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Ang Mealaktei’s son as Sok Setha, a deputy police chief in Prampi Makara district. Mr. Setha is a Prampi Makara district police officer, and is not related to Mr. Mealaktei.

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