Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday sentenced a woman to seven years in prison after convicting her of trafficking two Cambodian virgins to an unidentified US national.
Presiding Judge Iv Kimsry convicted Chum Sreypov of selling a 20-year-old woman and a 23-year-old woman, whose names were withheld, after Deputy Prosecutor Ngeth Sarath said she had made a deal with the American to sell the two for $1,000. Chum Sreypov denied the charges. The sentence for the Oct 8 incident was handed down despite one of the allegedly trafficked women having testified in court that Chum Sreypov had not tried to sell her, and the woman’s father having said he had not filed a lawsuit against the defendant.
In court, defense lawyer Nou Chantha called Chum Sreypov’s arrest a “trick,” accusing police of colluding with the faith-based NGO International Justice Mission to stage what would look like a trafficking situation in order to entrap and arrest Chum Sreypov.
Nou Chantha told the court that Chum Sreypov and the unidentified American met for lunch at a Chamkar Mon district restaurant, along with a translator and driver.
Chum Sreypov said she was arrested just before getting into a car with the three men, none of whom testified or were named. The unidentified American man who allegedly attempted to purchase the women’s virginity was also not arrested, he said.
“There are holes in this case,” Nou Chantha told the court. “There is no testimony from the US national, driver or translator.”
Outside the courtroom, Ngeth Sarath conceded that there were problems with the trial, but asked: “What can I do when the judge decided to convict her already?”
An IJM representative who declined to be named said the NGO did not fabricate the case against Chum Sreypov, though he added that the NGO assisted the police in the investigation. The representative said he knew nothing about the US man, driver or translator. Police from the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department were responsible for investigating and arresting Chum Sreypov, he added.