The Court of Appeal on Thursday reduced the prison sentence of a woman convicted earlier this year of persuading two relatives and a neighbor to sell their kidneys in Thailand, and overturned convictions against two others who had been found guilty of acting as accomplices.
Consulting Judge Samreth Sophal said the Appeal Court decided to reduce the sentence of 29-year-old Nhem Sinuon from 15 years to 7 years after discovering that one of her victims was not a minor, as was believed during her trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March.
“The court changed the original sentence to 7 years because a victim who claimed to be 17 years old was found by the court to be 19 years old,” Judge Sophal said.
The municipal court sentenced Ms. Sinuon after finding her guilty of illegally exporting human organs, illegal human trafficking and exploitation.
Judge Sophal said the Appeal Court also overturned the convictions of Ms. Sinuon’s stepfather, Nhem Phalla, 49, and brother-in-law, Pheng Sabay, 22, for conspiring with Ms. Sinuon.
“The two other men were freed because there is not enough evidence to inculpate,” he said.
Both men were originally handed 10-year sentences in absentia. Mr. Phalla failed to appear in court after posting bail in March, while Mr. Sabay has been on the run since Ms. Sinuon was apprehended in July last year.
Oum Bunthoeun, a lawyer for all three defendants, said the Appeal Court’s decision was made following a hearing late last month in which it was discovered that one of the victims, Roeun Chamroeun, Ms. Sinuon’s cousin, was 19 years old at the time of the crime.
Mr. Bunthoeun said Ms. Sinuon’s conviction should have been overturned, claiming that all three victims agreed to sell their organs in Thailand.
“If the victims agreed, it is not an offense. It is a humanitarian matter,” he said, adding that he would appeal to the Supreme Court if asked to do so by his client.