‘I Didn’t Know This Caused Such Punishment’: Trafficker Appeals 16-Year Sentence

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Um Raden leaves the Appeal Court with officials on January 18, 2022. (Ouch Sony/VOD)

Seven Cambodian women were brought from the provinces to Phnom Penh with promises of jobs earning $500 a month in Singapore. After their arrival, however, Um Raden, 35, told the women there was no job in Singapore, and they would be sent to Malaysia instead.

When the women objected, Raden told them to repay her $500-600 each for expenses related to food and accommodations.

Raden, sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2019 for unlawful removal for cross-border transfer, pleaded in the Appeal Court on Tuesday: “I did not know this caused such punishment.”

The details of the case, which go back to 2016, were reviewed by presiding judge Phou Povsun.

Both the prosecution and defense asked for mitigation after Raden spoke of having three children, and that her father, who had been taking care of the children, had recently died.

Prosecutor Im Sophan noted that Raden’s crime had not been successful. Defense lawyer Lay Longdy said she had already served six years, and asked for leniency “so she can return to her family and find new jobs for her living.”

In separate cases, the Takeo provincial prosecutor appealed for heavier sentences against two men found guilty of raping their underage nieces.

Both Lay Sam Ath, 43, and Roeun Sokchea were handed seven-year jail sentences. Sam Ath was convicted of raping his 5-year-old niece in December 2020, while Sokchea was found to have raped his 8-year-old niece in May last year.

The Appeal Court’s decisions are expected on January 28.

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