The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the appeal of a woman sentenced in Banteay Meanchey province in 2015 to 15 years imprisonment for trafficking a Cambodian teenager to China for marriage.
The lawyer representing the convicted woman said she merely offered information to the victims and did not help them to travel to China.
At the courtroom on Wednesday, Chin Punleu, 33, also known as Norn, told the judge that she was caught up in the case because her cousin called her from China while a woman named San was visiting her house.
Punleu claimed that San said to her that, since she had a relative in China, she would like to receive help in getting two women – who were daughters of another woman called Pheap – to work in China.
“I told San that no one was looking to hire people in China, but I said, ‘If you want to know for sure, I can give you my cousin’s phone number’,” Punleu said.
She said that after giving San her cousin’s phone number, the two started to communicate.
After that, the woman named Pheap, who is the mother of the two girls aged 17 and 26, asked Punleu to take her daughters to Phnom Penh to apply for a passport, she said.
However, the immigration officer refused their request because they already had passports, having previously worked in Malaysia.
Pheap then asked Punleu’s cousin to arrange for the two women to fly to China.
“Before deciding to travel, the victims had video chats with the men in China. I ask the court to free me because I have cancer of the neck and have four children to care for,” Punleu said.
She said after the younger sister had lived in China for 10 months, she returned to Cambodia in 2016.
Pheap, the women’s mother, did not have enough money to pick her up, Punleu said, so she asked an NGO to help and take her home. It was then that the NGO filed a lawsuit against Punleu.
Punleu said that San received $2,000, but she did not receive any money herself.
Punleu said on August 15, 2017, the provincial court sentenced her to 15 years in prison and ordered her to pay five million riel ($1,233) to the victim.
Punleu took her case to the Appeal Court but, on March 25 last year, the court upheld the previous sentence.
Prosecutor Chum Samban said that during police questioning, the victim said Punleu had received $2,300 from her cousin in China.
Samban said Punleu admitted at the lower court’s hearing that she received the money. “Therefore, I would like the court to look at their answers and follow the law,” he said.
Defence lawyer Luy Sothy said that her client only offered information to the victim. “My client didn’t send the girl to anyone. And the daughters also told their mother that they had Chinese husbands.
“Why wouldn’t [the mother] have complained at the time? I would like the court to release my client,” she said.
Judge Kong Srim said the court would announce a verdict on June 5.