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Fishermen’s testimony leads to broker’s arrest

A broker who allegedly tricked three Cambodians into working on Thai fishing boats in Indonesian waters was arrested on Wednesday based on testimony gathered from the victims, police have said.

Che Sroul, 38, was picked up in Kampong Thom province’s Stung district by a joint task force comprising anti-trafficking police and Interior Ministry officials.

Sroul allegedly persuaded the three victims from Kampong Cham province to pay him 100,000 riel (about $25) and promised them higher incomes when they reached Thailand.

However, when the men reached their destination in 2010, they were handed over to a Thai boat owner, who allegedly paid Sroul almost $600 for the men.

They were then transferred to a fishing boat bound for Indonesia, where hundreds of Cambodians have been rescued from “slave-like” conditions in the country’s Maluku region following an investigation by the Associated Press.

The boat that the three victims who identified Sroul as a trafficker were on was impounded by Indonesian authorities in May.

“On May 11, due to the intervention of the Cambodian Embassy . . . they were saved and were repatriated,” a police report this week said. Sroul is now in pre-trial detention.

Chum Sonry, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said: “Due to the Cambodian Embassy’s insistence, the company has found a solution to allow them to access their salaries already before they were sent home.”

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