Charges Against Massage Parlor Staff Dropped

Three staff members at Phnom Penh’s World One massage parlor who were charged with de­bau­ch­ery in June following last year’s largest anti-trafficking raid have been released from Prey Sar prison, a senior prison official said Tues­day.

World One manager Chroe­ung Trang, 32, cashier Chhun Sok Lay, 25, and employee Lim Vich­ka, also 25, were released Satur­day after about six months in de­tention, prison director Hak Vat said.

He said he did not know which in­vestigating judge had issued re­lease orders, but added that char­ges against the three had been dropped.

Municipal Court Prosecutor Ouk Savouth referred questions about the case to investigating judge Thong Ol, who hung up when asked about it.

Municipal anti-trafficking police raided the establishment on June 28, removing 88 women and making several arrests. It was Cam­bodia’s largest anti-trafficking operation since the Dec 7, 2004 raid on Chai Hour II Hotel, in which 83 women and girls were taken to a shelter run by the anti-trafficking NGO Afesip. On Dec 8, the shelter was raided and the wo­men removed.

After the World One raid, then-muni­cipal police commissioner Heng Pov said police had concrete evidence that it was a brothel, including receipts showing fees paid for sex and testimony from women who had accepted money for sex.

Police officials refused to discuss the case on Monday and Tues­day.

World One owner Sok Leng, who was charged with running a bro­thel and debauchery, has been missing since June.

World One appeared to be emp­ty Monday, with its rusty gates drawn and padlocked, and a lone guard on duty outside on Street 139.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined comment on the case, as did Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kanatha Phavy, who said she did not know the specifics of the case.

The US announced in Septem­ber that it would not be upgrading Cambodia from the bottom tier of its global anti-trafficking watch­dog list. Subsequent limited sanctions for its poor anti-trafficking efforts went into effect on Oct 1.

US Embassy spokesman John Daigle said he did not know the spec­ifics of the staffers’ release and could not comment. He add­ed that the US would examine Cambodia’s approach to trafficking as a whole before making any decision about whether it would be upgraded from the bottom tier.

“We look at all their achievements and lack of achievements,” Daigle said. “There is never any one thing that affects the ranking.”



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