Meth dealers’ jail sentence upheld

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The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) destroyed 64kg of illicit drugs at the Koh Pich Centre on June 26. A new report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that there has been a significant increase in methamphetamine production in Southeast Asia over the past year, leading to an oversupply of the drug in East and Southeast Asia.

The Appeal Court on Wednesday upheld the lower court’s verdict against two men from Koh Kong province who were sentenced in 2015 to 10 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine.

Presiding Judge Kim Dany read the verdict in absentia of the convicts – Sam Phearum, 25, and Puthi Van Vithou, 33 – following a hearing on February 25.

“But this time the judicial council decided to uphold the 10-year prison sentence that was handed down to each of the convicts by the lower court,” Dany said.

The Supreme Court had upheld a previous Appeal Court ruling but referred the case back to the Appeal Court believing there had been a misinterpretation of Article 88 of the Criminal Code.

Article 88 stipulates that “if a person against whom a final judgement has already been entered for a misdemeanour commits the same misdemeanour within five years, the maximum sentence of imprisonment incurred for the new misdemeanour shall be doubled”.

Judge Dany said that before his arrest on June 15, 2015, Phearum, who lived in Village 3 in Khemarak Phoumin town’s Smach Meanchey commune, had asked Loeun Mom, from Veal Veng commune, to purchase approximately $200 worth of illegal drugs from Van Vithou.

Van Vithou delivered nine small packages of drugs to Phearum on Mom’s orders, the judge said, but police were only able to arrest Phearum and Van Vithou.

Koh Kong provincial court on December 27, 2015, sentenced the pair to 10 years in prison and fined each five million riel (about $1,250) for drug trafficking and committing the same misdemeanour for which they had already been sentenced.

The convicted men then filed a lawsuit at the Appeal Court to have the verdict overturned, but the matter was rejected.

Phearum and Van Vithou then filed a complaint to the Supreme Court, which on April 27, 2016, upheld the Appeal Court’s verdict and ordered to review the case

Judge Dany said Phearum had already been imprisoned twice for theft. In 2010, he was sentenced to one year and he was subsequently given another 18 months.

Van Vithou had been sentenced to one year in prison for fraud and five years for theft, Dany said.