Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court hears last appeal for airport drugs case

Court hears last appeal for airport drugs case

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Supreme Court on May 30 heard the appeal of a Japanese man who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for trafficking nearly 2kg of methamphetamines via Phnom Penh International Airport. KIM SAROM

Court hears last appeal for airport drugs case

The Supreme Court on May 30 heard the appeal of a Japanese man who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for trafficking nearly 2kg of methamphetamines via Phnom Penh International Airport.

Nonaka Shunichi, 73, was arrested at the airport in February of 2020 before receiving the lengthy prison term handed down by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

According to the case file read out at the Supreme Court hearing, on the night of February 15 that year, Shunichi carried two suitcases into the airport to bring with him on a flight to Japan.

The customs police and other authorities stationed at the airport then flagged him for a security check and found drugs weighing over 1.7kg hidden in the lining of his suitcases.

On September 15, Shunichi was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 40 million riel ($10,000) for drug trafficking. On September 28 of last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision, prompting Shunichi to file a grievance to the Supreme Court.

Speaking to the Supreme Court judges through an interpreter, Shunichi said that in February, 2020, he had travelled from Japan to Cambodia to meet with other foreigners.

He said that while he was staying in Cambodia, a Thai man who was his acquaintance gave him a suitcase and asked him to bring it to the man’s relatives living in Japan. Shunichi claimed that he did not know there were any drugs inside of it.

“When the police detained me, at first I had no interpreter who could translate Japanese into Khmer. I did not know what they were saying or writing and they told me to register my thumbprint on a document, so I did. That suitcase is not mine and I would like the Supreme Court to return this case to the municipal Appeal Court for a re-trial,” he said.

Defence lawyer Chum Iek stated to the court that his client was forced to undergo police questioning without the benefit of an interpreter, saying he was totally unaware he was carrying any drugs in the suitcase that day.

“I ask the trial chamber to examine the facts and give due consideration to the request of my client,” he said.

Prosecutor Bou Bun Hang said the police search of the suitcases was done according to proper procedures and the outcome of that search was not in doubt, regardless of how the man came to be holding the drugs. According to the law, he said the defendant is guilty as charged and the lower court’s decisions were correct and therefore the verdicts should be upheld.

Presiding Judge Khim Ponn said the Supreme Court’s ruling on Shunichi’s appeal would be issued on June 6.


  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and