Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Australian arrested after authorities tip off Cambodia

DELEGATING JUSTICE:Australian nationals have previously been arrested in Indonesia on drug smuggling charges and, in some cases, executed following similar cooperation

The Guardian

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is working with Cambodian authorities who have arrested an Australian woman at Phnom Penh International Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle almost 2kg of heroin in her luggage.

The Cambodian Department of Immigration said on Facebook that 1,814g of heroin were found embedded in the side of Ve Thi Tran’s suitcase in several different packages.

The 37-year-old was on Saturday preparing to return to Australia via Hong Kong when she was arrested while checking in at the airport, said an immigration official at the Phnom Penh airport, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to comment.

The arrest followed a tip-off by the AFP, which requested cooperation with the immigration department in making the arrest, the official said.

The police was criticized over its role in the Indonesian arrest of the so-called Bali Nine — a group of Australians arrested and convicted for attempting to smuggle heroin into Bali.

The AFP was aware of the smuggling plan before the people left Australia, but chose to tip off Indonesian authorities instead of arresting them in the Australian jurisdiction.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in April 2015. The others remain in prison in Indonesia, six of them on life sentences.

A spokesman confirmed the police was working with Cambodian authorities on Tran’s case, but said that while inquiries were continuing no further comment would be made.

Tran is being questioned by Cambodia’s anti-transnational crimes squad.

Drug-smuggling offences are dealt with harshly by the Cambodian justice system. In 2016 an appeals court upheld a 23-year jail sentence for an Australian woman, Yoshe Ann Taylor.

Taylor, a 41-year-old former teacher from Queensland, and 19-year-old French woman Charlene Savarino were in 2013 arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport with 2.2kg of heroin in Taylor’s bag. The pair were preparing to fly to Australia.

Savarino was sentenced to 25 years in jail and a Nigerian man, Precious Chneme Nwoko, was sentenced to 27 years.

Taylor said she had been tricked into carrying the drugs.

In May, two foreign nationals were given life sentences for attempting to smuggle nearly 5kg into Cambodia, the now-defunct Cambodia Daily newspaper reported.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware that an Australian woman had been detained in Phnom Penh.

“We stand ready to offer consular assistance in accordance with the consular services charter,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

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