Australian Ann Yoshe Taylor, right, and French teen Charlene Savarino get off a bus at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: AP
A tip-off from Australian authorities has led to a Cambodian court sentencing an Australian woman to 23 years' jail for attempting to smuggle 2.2 kilograms of heroin to Australia.
Ann Yoshe Taylor, 41, wept on Wednesday before being sent into Cambodia’s overcrowded jail system where conditions are harsh.
Taylor was convicted along with 19-year-old French national Charlene Savarino and Nigerian national Precious Cheme Nwoko following their arrest after a three-month police operation in Phnom Penh last September.
Nwoko was sentenced to 27 years in jail and Savarino 25 years. All three denied the drug belonged to them.
“The trio were charged with illegally cross-border transportation of the drug,” said Judge Kor Vandy.
Police alleged that Taylor and Savarino were arrested at Phnom Penh airport with heroin in their backpacks. They said Nwoko, who was the ringleader, was arrested later.
They said Taylor admitted she had used her backpack to smuggle heroin from Cambodia on one previous occasion.
“The French woman and the Nigerian man both organised and packed the drugs in Phnom Penh for the Australian woman to come and take them back to Australia,” police Brigadier-General Hay Seila said after the arrests.
The Cambodia Daily reported last year the arrests were based on information from Australian authorities.
Pheng Heng, a lawyer for Nwoko, said his client would appeal against the court’s decision, saying the court did not have enough evidence to convict his client.
Under Cambodia’s law, people have one month to appeal verdicts.