A 61-YEAR-OLD South African man was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday on cross-border human trafficking charges after he attempted to sell two Vietnamese sisters from Cambodia to a brothel in Thailand earlier this year.
Blake Mogamata Tape was arrested on September 17 at the Waterview guesthouse in Daun Penh district’s Wat Phnom commune following a complaint from the mother of the victims filed after one of her daughters called her from a brothel in Bangkok, where they were reportedly being held against their will.
Chen Da, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection unit, told the court yesterday that 46-year-old Choeung Thidav, the mother of the victims, lodged a complaint with police on September 16 saying that her daughters had called her for help from Bangkok.
The women became afraid that they had been sold to the brothel when, after traveling with Tape to Thailand, he allegedly left them at the site and disappeared, claiming he was going to get visas for them to live in South Africa.
Judge Ker Sakhorn sentenced Tape to 10 years in prison after convicting him of attempting to sell humans across borders under the Kingdom’s old human trafficking law, rather than of the initial charge of unlawful removal for cross-border transfer under the new human trafficking law.
The judge also ordered Tape to pay 6 million riel (US$1,477) in compensation to the victims’ mother in addition to a 5 million riel fine. Tape has one month to appeal the conviction.
“The court’s conviction is just and acceptable, although the compensation was not our former request of US$5,000,” one of the victims said following the hearing yesterday.
“I will take some money to immigration officials at the Poipet border crossing in Banteay Meanchey to thank them for their tireless efforts to free us from Thailand and arrest the man.”