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Danish Woman Jailed In Cambodia For Trafficking Painkillers

Date : 01/14/2009 @ 11:54PM
Source : Dow Jones News

Danish Woman Jailed In Cambodia For Trafficking Painkillers

PHNOM PENH (AFP)--A Cambodian court Thursday sentenced a Danish woman to 15 years in prison for allegedly trying to mail thousands of over-the-counter painkillers out of the country.

Axelexen Johanne Vinther, 45, was arrested at a post office in the capital Phnom Penh last year as she tried to send 10,761 tablets containing codeine in packages to the U.S. and Canada.

The drugs can be easily bought at street-side pharmacies throughout Phnom Penh, but are restricted in most Western countries.

Chhay Kong, a judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Vinther was guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced her to 15 years in jail.

The judge also ordered Vinther to pay a fine of $7,500.

Chhay Kong also sentenced a 28-year-old son of Vinther in absentia to 15 years behind bars and ordered him to pay a fine of the same amount.

Vinther denied she smuggled the drug, calling the verdict against her and her son "unjust."

"I did not commit any crimes. They (judges) don't even know what codeine is. They compare it to heroin. It was never heroin. It is not a hard drug," she said after the court hearing.

"It is something for the pain - painkillers."

Vinther said she would appeal against the verdict within a month and would even seek a "royal pardon" from Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni.

Impoverished Cambodia is becoming an increasingly popular trafficking point for methamphetamines and heroin, particularly since neighboring Thailand toughened its stance against illegal drugs in 2002.

However, arrests for violations involving pharmaceuticals are much less common.

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