Three women and one man who ran a trafficking ring that attempted to sell Cambodian women into marriages in China were each sentenced to a year in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday.
Hak Sinath, the 49-year-old ringleader of the operation, which was run out of her home in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district, was sentenced to a year in prison with two years suspended and fined 5 million riel, or about $1,250.
“The court has decided to sentence the accused, Hak Sinath…under Article 20 of the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation law,” Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said at Monday’s hearing.
Accomplices Srun Chanda, 29, Chhoem Sotheavy, 30, and Nuth Sokly, 35, were each sentenced to a year in prison with one year suspended and fined 4 million riel, or about $1,000. Ms. Sinath’s son, Lim Chheng Ngim, 24, was convicted on the same charges but had his prison sentence suspended without explanation from judge Vandy.
All four were arrested in Phnom Penh in October after anti-human trafficking police stopped Ms. Chanda as she was traveling with three women by bus to Vietnam, from where they were scheduled to be sent to China. After questioning, police were led to Ms. Sinath’s home, where they found the remaining suspects as well as two more potential victims.
During a hearing earlier this month, all five revoked prior testimonies in which they admitted to human trafficking.
“Your testimony stated that you sent the victim to receive blood tests and health checkups, made passports for them and promised to give them $500 each as bride’s money,” Judge Vandy told Ms. Sinath at the time, before asking her why she had reneged her account.
“I did not answer like that,” Ms. Sinath replied. “I do not know how to read.”
After the verdict was announced on Monday, however, Mr. Sinath said she accepted her sentence and would not file an appeal.