PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a Vietnamese woman to three and a half years’ jail for running a brothel, and suspended all but 10 months of the term.
Presiding Judge Din Sivuthy ordered Nguyen Thy Thy, 45, to serve 10 months’ jail from the date of her arrest. She was found guilty under Article 32 of the anti-trafficking law.
The defendant was arrested on April 22 after a month-long investigation into her massage parlour in Chamkarmon district’s Tomnop Teuk commune, which police suspected was a front for a brothel, the court heard.
Ngyuen Thy Thy, who appeared at the hearing without a lawyer, denied the charge, saying the women who worked for her may have been selling sex on their own initiative.
“I rented the place for just over a month to run a massage parlour, and there were three Vietnamese and Cambodian women,” she said. “I knew nothing about them secretly having sex with their customers.”
But deputy court prosecutor Heang Sophak said that based on the testimony of three women who claimed to have been employed by Ngyuen Thy Thy, the charge should be upheld.
“There is enough evidence to prove her guilty with maintaining a premise for prostitution based on testimonies from three employees,” he said.
One witness said she had sex with a customer on one occasion for 30,000 riels (US$7.10), 8,000 riels of which she paid to her boss.
Also yesterday, Siem Reap provincial court heard the case of a Norwegian man accused of purchasing child prostitution and possessing child pornography. Rolf Sletten, 64, from Oslo, was arrested on January 21 at a convenience store in Siem Reap town’s Svay Dangkum commune after a month-long investigation, police said.
Sun Bunthorng, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau, said Sletten was suspected of sexually abusing four underage boys, although he has only been charged for having sex with one of the boys.
Sletten’s defence lawyer, Phoum Bunphann, said his client had denied the charges during yesterday’s hearing.
“My client has refuted the allegations at all stages of the investigation,” he said.
He said that the victim’s age at the time of the alleged offence was also in doubt after the boy told the court that he was 16 years of age. “Due to his age, he could be free from the charges under the new anti-human trafficking law,” Phoum Bunphann said.
But Peng Maneth, a lawyer provided to the victim by child-protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, described the boy’s testimony as “strange”, saying he recanted claims made to police during their investigation.
“I would try my best to find justice for him as well as the boy’s real age,” he said.
Peng Maneth said that on the second charge, of possessing child pornography, there was plenty of evidence at hand.
“There is enough evidence to find him guilty, such as a computer, camera and pornographic photos,” he said.
The hearing is scheduled to continue today.