Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted and sentenced a woman to seven years in jail for the attempted trafficking of a 25-year-old woman to marry a man in China last year.
Presiding Judge Ly Sokleng said 39-year-old Oum Sophea, a farmer from Kampong Cham province’s Stung Trang district, was sentenced to seven years in jail for unlawful removal with purpose.
Judge Sokleng noted that Ms Sophea was arrested by officers from the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district on July 9 last year.
Judge Sokleng added that Ms Sophea was arrested when she brought the victim, 25-year-old Tep Sarak, to apply for a passport at the Passport Police Department in Phnom Penh.
Ms Sophea declined to comment on her sentence yesterday. However, during her trial last month, she denied the allegations.
Ms Sophea told the court that the victim asked her for help to find a rich Chinese man to marry and support her poor family after she found out that her 17-year-old daughter had married a Chinese husband and could send money between $100 and $200 from China.
Ms Sophea said she pitied the victim and helped her by introducing her to an unidentified Cambodian woman, who was a broker living in Phnom Penh.
Ms Sophea added that the unidentified woman promised to pay her $500 as commission and $2,000 to the victim’s family.
Ms Sophea said that on July 8 she was asked by the woman to bring the victim to Phnom Penh to apply for a passport to travel to China.
Ms Sophea said she has not received any payment from the unidentified woman.
“I am not a human trafficker as the court has accused me,” she told the court at the time. “I just worked to get paid.”
“I am a poor and uneducated woman. I did not know that my work was illegal and against the law. If I had known it, I would not have committed it,” she added.
Colonel Kim Chenda, chief of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office at the Ministry of Interior, told the court during the trial last month that police were informed of Ms Sophea’s human trafficking activities after a human rights officer at an international NGO based in Kampong Cham province alerted police on July 8.
Col Chenda noted that police intervened after being alerted and prepared for the arrest in Phnom Penh, where the victim was suspected to depart from.
“Ms Sophea was arrested on July 9 when she brought the victim to make a passport at the Passport Police Department in Chbar Ampov district,” Col Chenda said. “During the operation to arrest her, another four suspects, who were the ringleaders, had escaped.”
Col Chenda added that following the arrest, the victim was rescued and returned to her family in Kampong Cham province.