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Woman sentenced for trafficking deaf-mute

A CAMBODIAN woman was sentenced in absentia to 17 years in prison yesterday after being convicted of trafficking a deaf and mute Cambodian girl to Thailand in 2007.

The victim, who was 17 at the time of her abduction, was lured into travelling across the border by the false promise of a job as a cook in Thailand after being approached by 58-year-old Uth Orn while selling drinks and juice in Daun Penh district, said Roth Chanthol, the victim’s lawyer.

“When the girl was transported to Thailand by the associates of the accused, she was not given a job as a cook, but was instead sold to a brothel in Thailand”, where she was trapped for two years, Roth Chanthol said.

“She was forced to have sex with many clients until she eventually got pregnant and delivered a premature, stillborn baby,” Roth Chanthol said.

Uth Orn had taken advantage of the victim’s disabilities in convincing her to leave her home in Phnom Penh, Roth Chanthol added. The victim did not appear at the trial yesterday.

Judge Suos Sam Ath said identifying the perpetrator had proved difficult because of the victim’s disabilities, but that with the help of a sign-language interpreter, the victim’s family and her lawyer had helped compile sufficient evidence for a conviction.

“After reading the victim’s testimony through her translator and hearing the cases from the prosecution and the victim’s lawyer, there was enough evidence to convict the accused of cross-border human trafficking,” Suos Sam Ath said.

After convicting Uth Orn under Article 16 of the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking law, the judge issued a fresh arrest warrant for the defendant, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Chan Sang of AFESIP Cambodia, a local anti-trafficking group, said his organisation had helped Ly Sam Oeun file a complaint to the court last year after picking up the victim near the Thai border and providing her with temporary shelter.

The victim, he added, had made it to the border with the help an unknown man.

Roth Chanthol said he was satisfied with the verdict, but urged law enforcement authorities to redouble their efforts to apprehend Uth Orn.

“The problem is that the accused remains at large, and we don’t know her whereabouts, so there can be no justice for the victim until the accused is brought in for prosecution,” Roth Chanthol said.

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