Trafficking Case Will Go On Without Witness, Judge Says

The human trafficking case against Thang Kim Min will continue at a date to be announced, despite the flight of the key witness, officials said Monday.

A trial for the 35-year-old man, who was arrested last year, has been postponed twice.

Phnom Penh Municipal Judge Hing Thearith said there is no definite date set. “We want to investigate more in this case,” Hing Thearith said.

The witness, a young girl who claims she was trafficked though Cambodia, southern China and Macau, had taken refuge with the Agency for the Protection of Wo­men in Precar­ious Situations (Afesip) until Thursday night, when she fled, of­ficials from the organization said.

The case comes as international attention is being focused on trafficking. Deputy Prime Min­ister Sar Kheng returned Mon­day from a regional trafficking conference in Bali, Indonesia.

On Monday, Minister of Wo­men’s Affairs Mu Sochua criticized the court for claiming it wanted to investigate the immigration status of the witness. That may have caused the witness to flee, she said.

Officials at the ministry will push for the case to continue and “not let the judge deviate [from] the case,” Mu Sochua said. “If something happens to the life of this victim, we will ask for an explanation from the court.”

Lawyer Sieng Boravy said Monday she would continue to follow the case, but was worried for the safety of the witness and urged police to find her.

She said the case was important because other women and girls suffer under similar circumstances as the witness, who said she was beaten, raped and forced to take drugs during her ordeal.

“The main issue is that [the witness] does not want the [alleged] offender to do the same thing as before,” Sieng Boravy said.

Hing Thearith said he was not worried about the safety of the witness because the accused was in detention.

(Reporting by Brian Calvert, Van Roeun and Yun Samean)


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