Woman Gets 15 Years for Kidney Trafficking

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday sentenced a woman to 15 years in jail for convincing her two cousins and a neighbor to sell their kidneys in Thailand last year.

Presiding Judge Keo Mony said 29-year-old Nhem Sinuon—who was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district in July following a 10-day investigation after two of the victims filed complaints with police—was found guilty of illegally exporting human organs, illegal human trafficking and exploitation. 

Police say Ms. Sinuon had been running a transplant-brokering ring for nearly a year by the time she was arrested, but details of how many such transactions she arranged remain elusive. Ms. Sinuon was found to have forged identification for the two victims so they could pretend to be related to the recipients of their kidneys, which is a requirement under Thai law.

Upon leaving court Friday, Ms. Sinuon, who also goes by the name Azisah, broke down in tears and declined to comment.

The court also convicted in absentia Nhem Phalla, 49, the stepfather of Ms. Sinuon, and her brother-in-law Pheng Sabay, 22, who were accused of conspiring with Ms. Sinuon, sentencing each to 10 years in jail.

Mr. Phalla jumped bail and failed to appear in court earlier this month while Mr. Sabay has been at large since Ms. Sinuon was arrested in July.

The three were all ordered to pay $7,000 compensation to the three victims. One of the victims, Roeun Chamroeun, 18, said that he did not harbor any animosity toward his cousin, but would have expected harsher sentencing if the perpetrator had been somebody outside of his family.

“I have nothing to say and I do not blame her because she is my cousin. If she was not my cousin and I received $7,000 compensation it would not have been enough justice for myself,” Mr. Chamroeun said.

“I decided to sell my kidney because I was working as a construction worker and was earning a very small amount. But now my body feels very weak and I don’t know what job I can do in the future,” he added.

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