Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Woman gets 15 years for trafficking deaf teen

Woman gets 15 years for trafficking deaf teen

Em Sophea leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court
Em Sophea leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being sentenced to 15 years for trafficking a 13-year-old girl. Pha Lina

Woman gets 15 years for trafficking deaf teen

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday handed down a 15-year sentence to a woman convicted of taking a deaf, HIV-positive 13-year-old from the organisation that was housing her and forcing her to have sex with an old man in a Phnom Penh brothel last year.

Presiding judge Taing Sunlay said that 44-year-old defendant Em Sophea, a reputed casino gambler also known as Je Srey, was also obligated to pay some $2,000 in compensation to the victim after being convicted of selling, buying or exchanging a person with intent under Article 15 of the anti-human trafficking law.

“Based on the hearing, and after clearly considering this case according to the laws, the court has found that Em Sophea is guilty,” he said, adding that Sophea had the right to appeal.

The conviction came after a decision in February to reinvestigate the case based on the defendant’s claim that she had been at NagaWorld at the time of the events in question.

Sophea was arrested on July 15, 2013, by the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department based on a complaint from New Hope for Cambodian Children, an NGO that assists HIV-positive children, Sunlay said. Sophea had taken the girl from the organisation’s premises in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, he continued, and forced her to have sex with an old man in a brothel located in the White Building, a slum in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune, on June 16, 2013.

Sok Phalla, executive director of New Hope, said that the girl had been born HIV-positive and was orphaned at the age of 5 months. She had been living with New Hope since 2007, and had been transferred from the organisation’s Kampong Speu branch to the Takhmao branch to make it easier to attend classes for the deaf in Phnom Penh, he added.

“She disappeared without any reason from our orphanage centre in Takhmao on the 15th of June, 2013, and she returned by herself [on foot] to the centre on the 18th of June,” Phalla said.

“When she returned to the centre, I noted that she was pale and looked very tired, and there were many injuries on both of her arms and legs. After asking her, she told us that she was caught by the accused woman, and got detained inside her house,” he continued.

“She said that she was brought by this accused woman and forced to have sex with an old man who was a card player at a brothel shop in the White Building area. After having sex, she was given 2,000 riel (about $0.50) from this woman as a fee for having sex with that old man.”

A medical examination, Phalla added, showed that the young girl had injuries consistent with rape.

Sophea, however, maintained her innocence yesterday, and vowed to appeal.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,