Sixteen Taiwanese and one Chinese national were sentenced to four years in prison yesterday after being convicted on charges of extortion by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, though a suspended sentence means they will be ejected from Cambodia within the next few days.
The group have served five months and 15 days in custody since they were arrested and charged in November last year, with presiding judge Ey Thayarak suspending the rest of the sentence and ordering them out of Cambodia.
“These people are not allowed to enter Cambodia again and I have ordered to send them out of Cambodia. The suspects can lodge an appeal to the appeals court if they want,” he said yesterday.
Chinese national Long He Hua, 26, told the court he was a phone seller from China who came to Cambodia as a tourist in October last year, staying with 31-year-old Taiwanese co-accused Chen Li Jen for 10 days before he was arrested by police.
The other 16 Taiwanese defendants gave the court similar accounts, saying they arrived in October and November last year, with their flight tickets and passports prepared by a Taiwanese national known only as Chong, who is believed to run an extortion network in Cambodia.
The verdict comes only days after 33 Taiwanese, three Cambodians and one Chinese national were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district over their alleged involvement in an internet-phone-based extortion scam.