Two men, including a Chinese national and a Cambodian, were tried by Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly trafficking 22 youths to work in China in 2015.
Presiding judge Thlang Phaneth identified the accused as In Simanan, 34, president of the IPAT Institute, and Liu Wing Hing, 42, a Chinese investor.
They were charged with “unlawful removal for cross-border transfer” under article 11 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.
Judge Phaneth added that the accused were arrested by the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department on May 18.
According to a police report, Mr Simanan in 2015 recruited 22 Cambodian students from the IPAT Institute in Phnom Penh to study in China. He required them to each pay $2,500 to $4,500 to apply.
Mr Simanan promised that while they were in China, they would also be able to work part-time with partnered Chinese training schools and earn $500 to $600 per month.
To prepare for the victims’ studies abroad, Mr Wing Hing allegedly prepared their travel documents and related paperwork.
They departed for China in November 2015, but after arriving, the victims were sent to work at a garment factory with a salary from $100 to $120 per month and were forced to work 10-hour days with no time off.
Their passports were also confiscated by the owner of the Chinese factory.
The victims later fled the factory and went to the Cambodian embassy in China for help in December 2016. They were repatriated in January.
After arriving back in the kingdom, the victims filed a lawsuit against the suspects.
At yesterday’s trial, Mr Simanan admitted recruiting the victims and sending them to China in 2015.
“I acknowledge that I sent them to study and work in China via a partnered company of IPAT Institute,” he told the court. “But I did not know they were later sent to work as garment workers there.”
Mr Wing Hing denied the allegations.
“I admit that in this case, I merely helped In Simanan by preparing the victims’ travel documents,” he said. “Besides that, I did not know anything.”
Their verdicts are due on January 9.