A Bangladeshi man charged with human trafficking made a muddled attempt to recant his confession during his trial on Monday, first claiming the testimony attributed to him was wrong, then saying it was given under duress.
Raman Mizanur, 38, was arrested at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh on July 15 while applying for travel visas for seven other Bangladeshis.
According to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Mizanur initially told authorities that the seven Bangladeshis had paid $2,500 each in hopes of making it to Malaysia and that he pocketed a total of $800 for his services. He also reportedly told authorities that he had previously helped 80 people make the journey from Bangladesh to Malaysia via Cambodia.
Speaking through an interpreter at his trial on Monday, Mr. Mizanur admitted to applying for seven visas, but denied making the other claims.
“I did not say that each victim paid $2,500 or that I had moved 80 people from Cambodia to Malaysia,” he said. Later, Mr. Mizanur said he confessed under physical abuse from police.
“When I spoke with the police, the police slapped me three times and I just said whatever,” he said, adding that he stood by those answers given when later questioned by court officials.
Mr. Mizanur claimed that he had received the seven passports and accompanying visa applications by taxi from Poipet from Sakil Hasan Rebon, an acquaintance from their time working together in Malaysia.
Presiding Judge Heng Sokna asked the defendant if he knew the passports were fake.
“I did not know before, but now I know they were fake,” he replied.
Mr. Mizanur’s lawyer, Lim Linam, added that poor translation had likely confused his client’s previous testimony and that the charges were misplaced.
“My client received the passports. Did he force anyone? There is no victim in this case,” he said. “So I ask the judges to acquit my client.”
Judge Sokna said a decision would be announced on October 25.