Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sept 9th. Three Nigerian men were all sentenced to life imprisonment and their two Cambodian accomplices to 30 years each by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on thursday, September 7th. The five men were convicted for trafficking more than one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine last year in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor District.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Lim Makaroan identified the suspects as Innocent Onwumere Okafor, 44; Eric Chinedu Ankeke, 34; Mosses Chigizie Emebechi, 32; Chan Rattana, 24; and Bun Rayuth, 20.
The suspects were arrested by the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug trafficking police on May 13, 2016 at their rental house, located in Dangkor commune. After the arrests, police discovered more than one kg of methamphetamines/ice, as well as other related drug paraphernalia.
Vann Kosal, deputy chief of the anti-drug police department, said police had been investigating and following the group’s activities for many months before the arrests were made.
“They were arrested with evidence while they were purchasing drugs inside the three Nigerians’ rental house,” Mr. Kosal said.
Police seized 20 small packages of crystal methamphetamine weighing a total of 1098.11 grams, along with a scale and other drug related materials from the house, he added.
During the trial, the two Cambodian men admitted to their mistakes. However, they both said the drugs seized belonged to the three accused Nigerian men. They admitted that on the day of the raid, they had come to purchase crystal meth from the three accused Nigerian men in order to sell it to an unidentified buyer. They requested the court reduce their sentences.
The three Nigerian men denied the allegations. They said they were not drug traffickers and they did not recognise the drugs seized from their property. The men claim the drugs were planted by the police in order to arrest them.
Deputy Prosecutor Seu Vanny said according to a police report, the five accused men were part of the same group. She requested the judge to punish them to the full extent of the law.
“There is real evidence to show they have really committed the offences as accused,” she said.
Photo: Two of the convicts being led out of court
The judge found Chan Rathana and his cousin, Pun Rayuth guilty of working for the Nigerian drug dealers. Rathana confessed that they had committed this crime twice before and earned 200 USD on each occasion. In spite of the confession made by the Cambodian defendants, the Nigerian men denied all the accusations against them, but they could not prove that they were innocent.