The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged the owner of a brothel fronting as a barbershop with procuring prostitution on Friday morning, a day after the woman’s husband reopened the shop, according to officials.
The previous owner, Chan Thea, 44, was arrested by police during a raid of the shop in Daun Penh district on Tuesday, along with 11 Cambodian and Vietnamese women working there, according to Keo Thea, chief of the city’s anti-human trafficking police bureau.
During questioning at municipal military police headquarters, Ms. Thea and her employees—aged 17 to 30—all admitted to selling sex on the premises, he said.
Ly Sophana, the prosecutor handling the case, said on Sunday that Ms. Thea was charged on Friday morning and sent to Prey Sar prison to await her trial.
“[I] opened the questioning session and charged her with procuring,” he said on Sunday, referring to the name given to the crime of organizing prostitution, which is punishable by two to five years in prison and 4 to 10 million riel in fines, or about $1,000 to $2,500.
The barbershop was allowed to reopen under the ownership of Ms. Thea’s husband, Mr. Sophana said, declining to identify the man.
“We allowed [him] to run the business as usual,” he said. “A barbershop is a legal business, as long as it isn’t attached to sexual services, which are illegal.”
According to Phsar Thmei I commune clerk Sarin Vanna, the man was not involved in the brothel’s running and had been approved as the owner of the barbershop after signing a contract promising to offer only haircuts.
He added that he did not know the name of the man, but said the shop had reopened on Thursday morning.
You Sopheak, a bureau chief in Phnom Penh’s social affairs department, said that after police questioned the shop’s 11 arrested employees, all but one had been sent to NGOs that work with former sex workers, while the last was now with her family.