Anti-human trafficking police have arrested the nephew of a former government official sacked from his position after being linked to the trafficking of labourers to work as maids in Saudi Arabia.
Former Social Affairs Ministry secretary of state Ahmad Yahya lost his position in September after being linked to a case in which a maid had become a slave, working without pay and stuck in the country for years without access to her passport.
On Friday, anti-human trafficking police arrested his nephew, Ismael Pin Osman, 44, who is accused of trafficking women to the country since 2004 in tandem with his uncle, who is now also wanted for questioning.
Pak Youleang, a deputy director with the anti-human trafficking department, said the suspect was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.
“Now the anti-human trafficking police are investigating more to arrest others linked to the case,” he said.
According to a police report, the suspect was working for his uncle since 2004, recruiting women to be sent to Saudi Arabia to work as maids for $220 per month.
“The suspect recruited 22 women. Some of them were underage and Ahmad Yahya changed their names and ages,” the report claimed. “The women were sold to employers for $20,000.”
The report added that two women, Math Sanas, 28, and Eng Pov, 38, have been rescued so far, both of whom were sent to work in Saudi Arabia by Mr Yahya’s recruitment company, The Accent Group.
The police report noted that the suspect made his first court appearance on Saturday but has yet to be charged.
It added that police would be requesting the court to issue warrants to arrest others, including Mr Yahya.
After losing his government position, Mr Yahya claimed he had done nothing wrong upon the return of Ms Sanas, who worked as a maid without pay for 12 years.
Mr Yahya confirmed in a Facebook video that he placed Ms Sanas in a job in the country through his company, The Accent Group, but said she then changed employers without his knowledge.
“I want to show the public that my company is legal,” he said at the time. “She brought her passport to me to send her to Saudi Arabia. I helped her because she needed a job. I did not know that she was underage because her passport said she was 18.”
Mr Yahya could not be reached for comment yesterday because his previous mobile number has now been disconnected.