Suspects Deny Human Trafficking Charges at Trial

Two Chinese men and a pair of Cambodian women accused of attempting to traffic Cambodian women to China to sell into the sex trade denied the charges against them during their trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Chinese nationals Zu Zhisheng, 39; Xu Jing Long, 34, and Cambodians Lam Na, 45, and Sok Bora, 25, have been in pretrial detention since February. They were charged with human trafficking and face between seven and 15 years in prison under the anti-human trafficking law. They also face charges of forging identification documents.

“In the police document, you confessed to everything, but now you say you do not know,” Judge Keo Mony told the suspects in court. “Because the story is very complicated, and because the victims are absent, the trial will be postponed.”

The accused initially admitted to planning to traffic two young women from Takeo province to China under a false agreement to have them married to wealthy Chinese men. Instead, the suspects said, they decided to sell the women into brothels.

Phat Phalla, deputy anti-human trafficking police chief for Phnom Penh, said in court that one of the victims was underage, and that the suspects altered the underage victim’s identification documents to change both her name and her age.

“The Cambodian girls did not want to go to China to marry,” Mr. Phalla said, adding that the victims were promised $1,500 to go through with it.

A date for the continuation of the trial has not yet been set.

Earlier this month, a group of five human traffickers who sent at least six Cambodian women to China—where they were later raped by their husbands or sold into the sex trade—was sentenced under anti-human trafficking laws. Three Chinese nationals received seven-year jail terms while two Cambodian women, acting as brokers, received two-year terms.

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