A 28-year-old Moldovan woman yesterday denied during her trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court that she trafficked a 19-year-old girl from her home country to Phnom Penh to work for free in her restaurant while also having sex with customers.
Liudmila Bejenari, the former manager of the Ga Do Italian Pizza & Wine Shop in Daun Penh district, was arrested in 2015 after the 19-year-old victim, Sudelela Christina, managed to get her hands on a cell phone and call authorities for help.
Ms Bejenari is charged with unlawful removal with purpose under the anti-human trafficking law and will face seven to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Deputy prosecutor Sin Vireak said Ms Bejenari travelled to her home country of Moldova in 2014 and convinced Ms Christina to come to work for her in Phnom Penh, promising to pay for all her travel arrangements.
Upon arriving to work in Phnom Penh, Ms Bejenari allegedly confiscated Ms Christina’s passport and failed to pay her over the course of nine months, during which time she forced her to have sex with customers and the owner of the restaurant.
“She forced the victim to work with no pay and forced her to have sex,” said Mr Vireak. “When the victim got money from having sex, Ms Bejenari also confiscated that and did not share the profits.”
Ms Christina said during yesterday’s trial that she was once forced to have sex with two men at a hotel for $300 and also slept with the owner of the restaurant, Nigerian Akudo Jeffery, 45, at least 10 times.
Ms Bejenari acknowledged yesterday that she arranged travel for Ms Christina, but claimed she was not paying her salary because Ms Christina had made a deal to pay her back for the travel expenses.
Ms Bejenari denied forcing the victim to have sex with customers.
“I am innocent,” she said. “I would like to ask the judges to find the truth for me in this case.”
A verdict is due August 2.