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Convicted human trafficker appeals lengthy sentence

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The Supreme Court on Monday heard the defence plea of one of three suspects sent to prison for cross-border human trafficking to Thailand in 2009. Kim Sarom

Convicted human trafficker appeals lengthy sentence

The Supreme Court on Monday heard the defence plea of one of three suspects sent to prison for cross-border human trafficking to Thailand in 2009.

The court report said there were three suspects in the case – Nak Sambath, a taxi-driver, Nget Phalla and Moeut Kea.

Sambath is accused of delivering six people from Kampong Kdei commune in Chi Kraeng district to Poipet city, Banteay Meanchey. The six were to be employed as fishing boat workers in Thailand.

The victims claimed they were forced to work on the boat for six months and were abused by the boss until the Cambodian embassy in Thailand helped to get them off the boat and back to the Kingdom in 2016.

The victims returned and filed a complaint to Chi Kraeng district police and the court. Authorities investigated and found the suspects were involved in human trafficking.

The Siem Reap Provincial Court issued arrest warrants for the men and they were taken in by police.

A guilty verdict was reached on May 18, 2017. Sambath was sentenced to eight years in prison while Phalla and Kea each got nine years.

Sambath told the judge on Monday that he did not persuade the victims to work in Thailand. They contacted him to deliver them from Chi Kraeng district to Poipet city and paid him 40,000 riel ($10) per person.

“I do not know those six people. They hired my car to drive them to Poipet city. I ask the Supreme Court to free me. I did not commit a crime,” Sambath told the court.

Prosecutor Chum Samban said the Appeal Court’s decision upholding the trial court verdict is accurate.

Sambath’s defence lawyer Nou Chantha argued that his client did not take the victims to Thailand. He is a taxi-driver and delivers customers to their destinations.

“I want the Supreme Court to move the case back to the Appeal Court,” he told the judge.

A lawyer for the six, Chea Nara, said his clients did not file the complaint to the Supreme Court.

“However, I request the Supreme Court to uphold the Appeal Court decision,” he said.

Presiding Judge Khim Pon said his ruling will be issued on August 14.

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