Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Failed gamblers tried for alleged trafficking

Failed gamblers tried for alleged trafficking

Singaporean Chua Hwee Kiat (right), 50, appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Singaporean Chua Hwee Kiat (right), 50, appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Pha Lina

Failed gamblers tried for alleged trafficking

Three failed gamblers who stand accused of turning to a convicted drug trafficker for a quick buck after losing all their money were tried yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin to Australia.

Chua Hwee Kiat, 50, a Singaporean national, reportedly told police he had tried to transport the more than 80 grams of heroin secreted in his anus, before taking the package out and hiding it in his trouser pocket.

Kiat was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on November 20, 2014. Two Cambodians, Tan Chikeng, 57, and Muth Bunnath, 50, were later detained in connection with the alleged smuggling attempt at separate addresses in Phnom Penh.

Judge Kor Vandy said the suspects had gambled away their money in casinos before getting the idea to try their hand at drug smuggling.

“They tried to hide the drugs in their anus, but unluckily for them they got caught,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Hun Rithy of the police’s Transnational Crime Investigation Unit said the suspects had joined a well-known drug ring led by imprisoned drug smuggler Sin Sophal.

Chikeng was arrested after dropping off Kiat at the airport, he added.

When police searched Chikeng’s home in Tuol Kork district, they allegedly uncovered another 250 grams of heroin.

Police asserted that Bunnath had hired Kiat, for a fee of $5,000, to traffic the drugs, and Chikeng, for $500, to act as a translator.The suspects yesterday pleaded guilty, saying they did not “own” the drugs in question, and requesting reduced sentences.

Bunnath told the court that Sophal had called her from prison and instructed her to receive the drugs from a contact who visited her home in May.

She added that she was to be paid an additional $2,000 in commission once the drugs arrived safely in Australia.

“I needed the money to pay for the fees of my son’s cancer treatment,” she told the court. “My son was staying in Calmette Hospital.”

She added that her son has since died.

Rithy, of the transnational crime unit, said Sophal was a known ringleader in the drug trade to Australia, having been convicted in 2010 to 27 years in prison for drug trafficking.

A verdict for Kiat, Chikeng and Bunnath is scheduled for January 21.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway