Two women charged with running an illegal lottery operation pleaded for leniency during their trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday, claiming they were only taking money from gamblers in order to provide for their poor families.
Lim Chan, 58, and Sok Chenda, 39, were arrested February 26 in a coffee shop in Tuol Kok district’s Boeng Salang commune while taking bets from patrons. They face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
During Wednesday’s trial, they both admitted taking bets, which were based on a lottery in Vietnam, but denied running an illegal gambling operation in Cambodia.
Ms. Chan told the court she collected money from gamblers and gave it to a motorcycle taxi driver to pass along to the operation’s ringleader, in order to supplement the income from her faltering grocery business.
“I didn’t know it was an act that is against the law,” she said, explaining that in one day she usually collected between $25 and $50 for a commision of about $2. “I will not do it again, I swear, and I will return to doing my grocery business.”
Her co-accused, Ms. Chenda, said that she got involved to help support her family because her husband was ill and not able to work.
“I knew it was not allowed, but I did not know I could face prison time,” she said.
Presiding Judge Kor Vandy responded to the defendants’ claims with a rhetorical question.
“You knew it is against the law, and it was broadcast by TV and radio that it is illegal business, so why did you still do it?” he asked, before announcing that a verdict would be delivered on May 5.
Ke Chhardaphors, a lawyer for the accused, asked the judge for leniency.
“They were doing it because [Ms. Chan’s] grocery business is not good,” she said. “And [Ms. Chenda] has no other person helping to support her family.”
In a separate case Wednesday, the court began questioning 12 people who were arrested during a crackdown on illegal lottery gambling in Tuol Kok district’s Phsar Depot III commune on Tuesday.