Prisoners Deny Trafficking Drugs in Prey Sar

Two of three men charged with using and trafficking methamphetamine inside the maximum-security Prey Sar prison denied the trafficking allegation during their trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Inmates Nuth Keorachana and Touch Sovann, both 32, and Ly Thienmam, 39, were charged with drug use and trafficking while incarcerated in Prey Sar in 2013.

Mr. Keorachana is currently serving his sentence in Pursat province and did not attend Wednesday’s trial. Mr. Sovann and Mr. Thienmam both admitted in court to using methamphetamine but denied trafficking the synthetic drug.

Mr. Sovann said he once accepted $50 from an ill inmate—who has since died—to buy some medicine for him but insisted that the medicine was not illicit drugs.

“I do not accept being charged with trafficking,” he told the court. “The prison police did not find any drugs on me; I don’t know why they charged me.”

In his own testimony, however, Mr. Thienmam said he had once given $50 to Mr. Sovann to buy drugs from the now-deceased prisoner, Hak Ieng.

“I asked Touch Sovann to buy it from Hak Ieng and I paid 200,000 riel [about $50],” he said. “I used the drugs because I was stressed.”

Though the practice is extremely common, Presiding Judge Keo Mony called the sale of drugs in prison “unbelievable.”

Judge Mony said a verdict would be announced on March 3.

In a separate case, police in Tbong Khmum province arrested a 46-year-old woman on Monday for allegedly attempting to smuggle methamphetamine to her husband inside the province’s Trapaing Phlong prison by hiding the drugs in a bowl of beef soup.

Khin Sang was caught at the prison gate when guards searched her soup and found 28 methamphetamine pills and 5 grams of crystal methamphetamine hidden inside, said prison director Kea Sovanna.

“We found the drugs in a big bone of beef. She had wrapped them in plastic,” he said, adding that Ms. Sang had confessed to running the same routine on four prior occasions.

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