All three suspects arrested last year for sending a young woman to China for marriage denied the trafficking charges against them during their trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, claiming to be innocent intermediaries.
Dul Chandy, 26; Chor Chhoam, 40; and his wife Boeun Soklin, 34, were arrested in January 2015 after the latest woman they sent to China, 22-year-old Khoeun Am, was sent back to Cambodia by Chinese authorities upon landing and filed a complaint against them.
During the trial on Tuesday, Ms. Soklin said that her sister, who was living in China with her Chinese husband, asked her if she knew of any Cambodian women who would want Chinese husbands of their own, and so put her sister in touch with Ms. Am, whom she had found through Ms. Chandy.
“Ms. Chandy introduced us,” Ms. Soklin said. “I gave my sister’s number to [Ms. Am and Ms. Chandy], and they contacted each other.”
She said the travel documents were prepared by a man and woman named Mr. Virak and Ms. Mey—the court does not have their full names—which she then passed on to Ms. Am through Ms. Chandy.
Ms. Chandy admitted to helping make arrangements for Ms. Am, and three other women previously.
“They asked to go themselves, and they agreed on their own,” she said.
“Did you know it was against the law?” Consulting Judge Svay Tonh asked.
“I did not know it was against the law,” she said. “They said it was legal.”
In written testimony read out to the court, Ms. Am, who was absent from the trial, said she met Ms. Chandy at the Phnom Penh garment factory where they both worked about three months before her failed trip to China.
She said Ms. Chandy came to her with the idea of moving to China to get married as a way to make money and even offered to pay off her $300 debt if she agreed, but then demanded $10,000 for the return of her family book once she returned to Cambodia.
Duy Soksolida, the lawyer for Ms. Soklin and her husband, urged the judges to drop the charges against his clients, arguing that Ms. Am had asked to go to China.
“The victim asked for help and she wanted to have a good life, so my clients just made the introductions and she [Ms. Am] made the contact herself. So I ask the judges to drop the charges,” he said.
Presiding Judge Veng Hourt said the court would announce a verdict on February 25.