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Court grills alleged teen-bride brokers

Court grills alleged teen-bride brokers

Three suspected illegal marriage brokers were questioned at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly arranging to sell two 16-year-old girls as wives to a pair of Taiwanese men.

On Monday, anti-human trafficking police arrested Ry Saray, 27, Eav Seng Lay, 45, and Mey Sina, 39, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.

The women are accused of brokering marriages between the two teenagers and Taiwanese nationals living in Taiwan, said Lieutenant Colonel Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police.

“They were arrested by our police when they brought the two victims in to apply for their passports,” he told the Post yesterday.

In order to broker the marriage, said Thea, the women are believed to have made contact via e-mail with a group of men whom Seng Lay had been in touch with in the past while pulling off a similar scheme involving other underage girls.

After sending out a mass email containing photos of an unknown number of available wives, two men replied requesting more information on two of the girls. The traffickers then sent back and forth a number of emails containing at least half a dozen photos of the girls, until an agreement was reached.

Thea said police do not yet know how much commission the women allegedly made, but said Seng Lay is believed to have sold underage girls to Taiwainese men at least three times in the past year.     

The alleged brokers were caught when trying to pass off fake documentation at the passport office to increase their ages from 16 to 22 years old.

But though police have sought human-trafficking charges, for which guilty parties could face up to 20 years, the prosecution said there was insufficient evidence.

Deputy prosecutor Kong Sam Sareth said he had not yet charged the women as of yesterday evening but expected to charge all three today with forging a public document.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]

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