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Alleged traffickers tried as more brides return

Five suspected human traffickers were tried yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly attempting to send five Cambodian women and two minors to China for marriage.

Presiding judge Svay Tong said the suspects, Chinese nationals Wang Houguo and Li Xiging, and Cambodians Chhun Lida, Sok Khim and Duoy Sam Oun, had been charged with “the attempted act of selling, buying or exchanging a person” and “producing fake documents”.

Major Phath Phalla, deputy chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking police, said the group was arrested on February 3 after bringing the victims, from Kampong Cham, Kratie and Prey Veng provinces, to the Phnom Penh airport.

“They illegally selected girls from poor families . . . with the aim of selling them to marry Chinese men,” he said.

The group is also accused of forging travel documents for the two minors, changing their ages to 23.

All five defendants maintained their innocence yesterday, and urged the court to drop the charges.

A verdict is due September 18.

Meanwhile, two trafficking victims were repatriated from China yesterday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ministry spokesman Chum Sonry said that the two women were “cheated into marriages with Chinese men by a broker in 2013”.

Their return was facilitated by the Cambodian Embassy in cooperation with Chinese police, the UN and World Vision.

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