Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Trial Of 8 Nigerians Accused Of Dealing Drugs From An MFM Church Branch In Cambodia, Ends As Woman Denies Dealing Drugs

The trial of eight Nigerian men and a Cambodian woman accused of dealing crystal methamphetamine from a Phnom Penh church ended on Tuesday, with the woman claiming she had no idea that the smartphone boxes she delivered in 2014 were filled with drugs.

During the third and final day of questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Nigerian national Favour Nnabuife Okorom, 36, and the Cambodian defendant, Mam Vinyong, 25, were questioned over their involvement in a drug ring that police say operated out of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Church in Meanchey district in 2014 and early 2015.

Ms. Vinyong admitted to delivering smartphone boxes for defendant Tony Mmaduka Chukwuonye, but claimed she was unaware that there were drugs inside.

The pair became close after meeting at the church following the end of her previous relationship, she said, adding that he had paid for powdered milk for her baby.

“At the end of October and early November, I delivered the goods two or three times, and in December I delivered them one more time,” she said, adding that she was paid $100 per day for acting as a courier.

“Mr. Tony just told me they contained valuable objects and I thought they might be brand-new smartphones,” she said.

However, Roeung Pheap, a bureau chief at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, refuted Ms. Vinyong’s claim of innocence.

“Before we went to arrest her, our undercover officers reported that she was delivering the drugs to other dealers, and we know Mr. Tony was the one who often ordered her to do it,” he said.

Like the seven other Nigerian defendants who testified during two previous days of hearings, Mr. Okorom denied everything.

Asked about receiving drugs from Ms. Vinyong at a KFC restaurant at Phnom Penh’s Sovanna Shopping Center, he said, “I had only lived in Cambodia for two months and had never been to KFC.”

A verdict is due on September 12.  

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