Vietnamese Women Stand Trial for Drug Trafficking

A Vietnamese woman on trial for attempting to send pseudoephedrine to Australia last year told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday that another woman charged in the case paid her to mail the drug, while her co-defendant denied the claim.

Nguyen Thi Thu Suong, 48, and Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, 28, were arrested at the Phkar Chhouk Tep II hotel in Tuol Kok district on October 6 last year after police were alerted to a suspicious package that Ms. Anh attempted to mail to an address in Australia, according to Presiding Judge Thlang Phaneth.

The judge said that when staff at the Phnom Penh post office inspected the package, they found 12 bras along with seven metal cans and four plastic jars containing 1,838 grams of gray powder, 1,043 grams of dark yellow powder and 414 grams of white-and-yellow powder. All three types of powder later tested positive for pseudoephedrine, with purity ranging from 62.59 percent to 90.34 percent, he said.

Pseudoephedrine is a common precursor to the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Ms. Anh told the court Monday that she met Ms. Suong at a bus station in Ho Chi Minh City on the same day and that the two traveled to Phnom Penh together. She said Ms. Suong gave her the package and promised her 2 million Vietnamese dong, or about $100, to mail it to Australia.

When Judge Phaneth asked Ms. Anh why she had not inquired about the box’s contents, she replied: “I felt happy when I was promised 2 million dong.”

Ms. Suong rejected Ms. Anh’s version of events and said she had merely shared a bus with Ms. Anh and her husband.

“I don’t know who it belongs to,” Ms. Suong said of the package.

Ms. Anh’s lawyer, Sok Uorng, said his client did not knowingly commit a crime, and should be treated with leniency.

“Two million dong is a lot for her,” he said. “I would like the court to please consider this point and I would like the court to release my client.”

Judge Phaneth said a verdict would be issued on October 9.

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