Municipal Court Concludes Trial of Six Vietnamese Brothel Staff

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday concluded the trial of six Vietnamese nationals accused of selling 20 girls and women for sex out of two establishments in the city center.

The six were arrested and charged with procuring prostitution in November after coordinated raids on the establishments—a massage house on Sothearos Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district and a karaoke parlor on Street 63 in Daun Penh district.

Of 20 women found at the two premises, six were found to be minors. All 20 were Vietnamese or of Vietnamese descent.

On Friday, court clerk Sok Bunny read the testimony of a number of the victims, outlining how the business operated.

“Some of the victims said that they would have sex one time with a customer and get $10,” Mr. Bunny said. “The staff of the massage shop would take $5 and the girl would keep $5.”

“Some victims said that sometimes, when they did have sex with customers, they did not tell the shop owner and kept all the payment from the customer,” he added.

Sek Saroeun, the victims’ lawyer from the International Justice Mission, which assisted in the November raids and preceding investigation, told the court that the two establishments selling sex were likely part of a wider ring.

He said that another suspect, Sok Meng, who remains at large, had his name on the leases for the two locations but was not the ringleader of the operation.

Defense lawyer Soeng Monpunlork asked that the charges against Heng Chhay, 26, be dropped, as his client was simply a repairman working at one of the establishments at the time of the raid, and that charges against Nguyen Yandong, 32, be reduced because he is infected with AIDS.

Don Vibol, another defense lawyer, asked that the court reduce the charges against Nguyen Dinga, 26, and Yoeun Vikhen, 48, as they are “low-level staff,” and drop the charges against Le Chantha, 31, and Nguyen Thi Yong, 39, because “they are not involved.”

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said a verdict would be handed down on November 12.

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