The appeal court on Wednesday heard the case of a Japanese man and a Cambodian woman charged with trafficking six Cambodian women to Japan to act as sex workers.
The lower court had previously sentenced the pair to seven years in prison each.
At the court on Wednesday, Fukui Susu Mu, 52, told the judge that he came to Cambodia in 2016 and opened a restaurant near Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. The other convicted person, Susu Mu’s girlfriend Lim Leakhana, 29, was a worker at the restaurant.
Susu Mu told the court he was introduced to a Cambodian woman known as Lam Sart by a Japanese woman known only as Nagary in August 2016.
He said under the instruction of Nagary, Lam Sart found six Cambodian women for what the women thought was work in restaurants in Japan. Susu Mu continued that he helped process their visas, with Nagary funding the $1,800 fees.
According to the court report, when the six Cambodian women arrived in Japan in 2016, their jobs in restaurants didn’t materialise and they were asked to provide sexual services to Japanese clients.
The women filed a complaint at the Cambodian Embassy in Japan and were then returned to Cambodia, at which point legal proceedings began against Susu Mu and Leakhana.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced the pair in May last year to seven years in prison each for the Unlawful Recruitment for Exploitation, according to the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. They were also ordered to pay $20,000 compensation each to the victims.
“I did not take the six Cambodian women to provide sexual services. I merely helped them with their documents. I was not paid by the Japanese woman. Because of Japanese culture, the fee was paid after everything was completed.
“I would like to ask the court to lower my sentence because I have lung problems and need to take care of my elderly mother who is in hospital in Japan,” Susu Mu said.
Leakhana told the judge that she only worked in the restaurant and did not know or have any relationship with the victims.
“I would like to ask the court to free me because I have a mother who is disabled. No one is taking care of my mother. I have nothing to do with this issue,” she said.
Presiding judge Samrith Sophal said the court will issue a verdict on March 7.