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Brides-to-be rescued from being ‘trafficked’

A Chinese national and three Cambodian brokers were arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday after allegedly attempting to sell three Cambodian women as brides in China, police and court officials said yesterday.

In the third human-trafficking case involving the would-be sale of Cambodian women to Chinese nationals in just over a month, 41-year-old Liu Shiping, a Chinese native, arrived at the airport on Saturday afternoon with the intention of picking up the three women and taking them back to his home country, Lieutenant Colonel Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit, said yesterday.

Kandal-based couple Kheang Sorphea, 28, and Kheang Sengly, 31, were both arrested along with Doeuk Meth, 53, a farmer living in Kampong Speu, for allegedly collaborating with Liu to sell the three women.

“They were arrested by our Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit because they brought three girls from Kandal, Kampong Speu and Kratie provinces to catch a plane to China in order to marry Chinese men there,” Thea said yesterday, adding that Liu is suspected of facilitating the trafficking of dozens of Cambodian women.

Police became aware of Liu’s human trafficking business in Cambodia earlier this year, Thea said, after women who had been exploited by the broker tipped police off.

Sorphea, Sengly and Meth were paid by Liu to locate women, earning up to $1,500 per woman; Liu allegedly then sold them abroad for anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 each, officials said yesterday.

The three Cambodian women that were rescued on Saturday are 19, 20 and 21 years old, Thea said.

“They now have been sent back to their families after they were educated by our police.”

All four suspects are being detained for further questioning at the capital’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit.

The suspects, who could not be reached for comment, were preliminarily charged by police with violating article 16 of the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation law. They are to be charged in court today.

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