Husband Calls for Release of Wife Charged for Selling Baby

The husband of a woman who was charged on Thursday for selling their 11-month-old baby to a wealthy couple in Phnom Penh said Monday that he wanted his wife released, and was surprised that his complaint to police had led to her prosecution.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged To Pitay, 28, with selling a person under Article 14 of the anti-human trafficking law. Her arrest four days earlier came after her husband, Lon Sophal, 30, contacted police upon discovering that she had sold their baby girl without his knowledge, according to municipal antihuman trafficking police chief Keo Thea.

But Mr. Sophal said Monday that he only expected police to “educate” his wife, rather than initiate proceedings that would eventually land her in Prey Sar prison, where she is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Pitay’s friend, Kong Chandy, 24, was charged and jailed for her role in brokering the deal.

“When we contacted police, we were asking them to intervene to get the baby back,” said Mr. Sophal, who filed the complaint along with his mother. “While she was being held in police custody, I thought police would only educate her and then set her free, not send her to prison.”

Mr. Sophal said he visited his wife in Prey Sar on Friday and was now seeking a lawyer to help secure her release.

Mr. Thea said his officers had simply been following legal procedures when they sent the two women to court after they confessed to selling the baby for $800 to “spend on something fun.”

“Although the complainant didn’t ask for the arrest, only to take the baby, competent authorities should compile a case for court when it’s a criminal offense,” he said.

Ms. Pitay and Ms. Chandy—who were both apprehended in Tuol Kok district—could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

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