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Kidney-sale sentence cut in half on appeal

Yem Asi Sas (left) and her stepfather Yem Phalla arrive at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year to face questioning for their involvement in organ trafficking.
Yem Asi Sas (left) and her stepfather Yem Phalla arrive at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year to face questioning for their involvement in organ trafficking. Photo supplied

Kidney-sale sentence cut in half on appeal

A woman who had been sentenced to 15 years for organ trafficking in March had her sentence halved at the Appeal Court yesterday, while her two relatives convicted in absentia saw their 10-year sentences dropped entirely.

Yem Asi Sas wept as she left the courtroom after hearing the news. The 29-year-old had been convicted of “trafficking people with the purpose of organ removal” after persuading several people, including two cousins, to go to Thailand to sell their kidneys to wealthy Cambodians on dialysis for $3,000 to $5,000 each.

Her father, Yem Phalla, and brother-in-law, Heng Sabay, convicted as accomplices, had fled prior to their convictions and were not present to hear their sentences lifted.

Judge Chan Madina said the court decided to cut Asi Sas’s punishment in half “because the . . . victims are over 18 and the suspect has a small baby and is female”.

Defence attorney Om Bun-thoeun, maintained her client’s innocence yesterday, saying that her victims were “willing sellers” of their kidneys, who had “willing buyers” – the alleged Cambodian patients.

The case came to light in July 2014 after Phalla’s 23-year-old cousin Krin, one of the victims, borrowed $3,000 from him. When he failed to pay the money back, Phalla stole Krin’s motorbike, prompting a police complaint.

When police questioned Krin about his relationship with the suspect, details of the kidney-trafficking scheme emerged.

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