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Arrest made following rescue of trafficked fishermen

A woman implicated in the trafficking of seven Cambodian men who were rescued in Malaysia after being used as slave labour aboard fishing boats has been arrested, while three other suspects have fled to Thailand, police said yesterday.

In late May and early June the seven men were rescued in two separate raids on plywood factories in Malaysia after jumping ship to escape slave labour aboard boats.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, said yesterday that Mao Sareth, a woman from Banteay Meanchey, had been arrested for “leading” Cambodian workers to Thailand illegally.

“The authorities identified three [more] offenders. They found out about a ring leader in Siem Reap. He escaped to live with his wife and children in Thailand. Another ring leader, a woman in Banteay Meanchey province, also fled to Thailand,” he said.

Huy Pich Sovann, a programme officer at the Community Education Legal Centre, claimed yesterday Mao Sareth had provided the phone number of a broker to victim Kriel Chanratanak, who was taken to Thailand in early June, 2010.

“Ratanak told me the story that he got the number from her, so I’m not sure what the relationship between her and the broker is,” he said.

Kriel Chanratanak said yesterday he had seen a labourer aboard one of the boats he was trafficked onto shot by the captain and witnessed another jump into the sea and drown. “One day three Khmer labourers, including me, and three Malaysians went together to the landing port to get gasoline to fill the boat. Four of us decided to run away until we arrived at a safe place,” he said.

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