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Cambodian Appeals Court Upholds Sentences of Foreign Drug Traffickers

Frenchwoman Charlene Savarino (left) and Australian Yoshe Ann Taylor (right) are escorted by guards at Phnom Penh Municipal Court

Frenchwoman Charlene Savarino (left) and Australian Yoshe Ann Taylor (right) are escorted by guards at Phnom Penh Municipal Court

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PHNOM PENH – A Cambodian appeals court on Tuesday upheld the prison terms of Australian woman, a Frenchwoman and a Nigerian man for trying to smuggle heroin to Australia.

Judge Pol Sam Ouen said the sentences given by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in May 2014 to then 41-year-old Yoshe Ann Taylor of Australia, 19-year-old Frenchwoman Charlene Savarino, and 23-year-old Precious Chneme Nwoko of Nigeria, were correct and accorded with the law.

The lower court had sentenced Taylor, a former teacher from Queensland, to 23 years in prison.

Savarino was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Nwoko to 27 years.

Savarino and Taylor were arrested in September 2013 at Phnom Penh International Airport after police found 2.2 kilograms of heroin in Taylor’s luggage as they prepared to fly together to Australia.

Nwoko, Savarino’s boyfriend, was believed to have masterminded the smuggling and asked Savarino to make the arrangements.

During their trial in 2013, the two women said the backpack containing the heroin belonged to Savarino’s boyfriend Nwoko and that he was sending it to an unidentified man in Australia.

Cambodia is not a major producer of illegal drugs but has increasingly become a smuggling transit route.

Khieu Vann, the lawyer for Taylor, told reporters that the appeals court’s decision was an injustice and that he would consult with his client to see if she wished to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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