‘Worried’ Trafficking Witness Flees Agency

Fearing arrest, the alleged victim of an international human trafficking ring has fled the organization caring for her, a rights worker claimed Friday. “Han,” an un­derage Vietnamese girl, fled the villa of the Agency for Protection of Women in Precarious Situ­a­tions, or Afesip, some time Thurs­day night, said Pierre Legros, re­gional coordinator for the NGO.

Han, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was afraid of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge’s decision to investigate her status in Cam­bodia and possible confinement, Legros said.

Judge Hing Thireath said in a court hearing Thursday he would investigate her as an illegal immigrant, and suggested he might issue a warrant for her arrest Friday. When Han was briefed on Thursday’s proceedings, she appeared worried, Legros said.

“She was afraid,” he said. “She did not want to go to a Cambo­dian jail.” Hing Thireath said early Thursday he had decided not to issue a warrant for Han’s arrest.

Just one week ago, Han had been prepared to testify in court in a case against Thang Kim Min, 35, who was arrested last year on charges related to human trafficking. Han later said she was too afraid to testify, after the municipal court postponed two trial dates, Legros said.

He expressed doubt Friday that Han would return, but said Afesip will pursue the case. Han had been interviewed by a court investigator and her comments were on record, Legros said.

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