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Massage shop owner jailed

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a former Chamkarmon district massage shop owner to two years and six months in prison for “procurement of prostitution”, but reduced the sentence by a year due to the defendant’s personal circumstances.

Try Tech, 45, operated “168 Massage Shop” in the district’s Tuol Tompoung II commune when he was arrested in January and accused of allowing his employees to provide more than massages to customers.

Lieutenant Colonel Keo Thea, chief of the Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit, said police raided the shop on the afternoon of January 23, finding a number of used and unused condoms in the massage rooms.

Controversy about presenting condoms as evidence has existed since the passage of a 2008 law on human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which ramped up a crackdown on brothels and seemed to override a previous policy that favoured condom use over prosecution.

In this case, five women were detained. But after being “educated” by police, they were let go. Tech has denied knowledge of his employees’ alleged actions, but the court was not convinced.

“Based on the hearing, the court has found that Try Tech was guilty. So the court has sentenced him to two years and six months,” said Judge Chuon Soreasy yesterday, reducing the sentence by a year because Tech was a first-time offender with a number of children to support and he had promised to not commit any new offences.

The verdict also bans him from ever running a massage business again.

Tech and his defence lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday. During his trial on June 24, however, Tech said he was unaware his employees engaged in sexual activity with customers, despite the presence of condoms.

“I did not allow my massage girls to have sex with clients in the shop,” he said.

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