Wife Says Trafficking Rescuer Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

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Chen Baorong of the Cambodia-China Charity Team, in a photo posted to the group’s WeChat account.
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Chen Baorong, a Chinese man arrested while trying to rescue detained workers from Cambodian scam compounds, was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday morning, according to his wife who attended the verdict announcement.

The decision was made at the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, but a court spokesperson had yet to confirm the sentence against Chen and others in the case on Tuesday. Chinese-language media have also reported the two-year sentence. A spokesperson on Wednesday confirmed the sentence for three of the defendants.

Four people were initially arrested in the case: Li Ya Yuan Lun, 31; Chen Xiaohua, 41; Tan Xiaomei, 41; and Chen.

Li had claimed in February that after refusing scam work in Sihanoukville, the syndicate detaining him harvested his blood. The story quickly attracted attention overseas — especially in Chinese-language media — but Cambodian authorities deemed the tale fabricated and arrested Li, Chen, Chen’s assistant and a doctor.

Chen was arrested and charged by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court in March with incitement to discriminate, false declaration, unlawful interference in the discharge of public functions and unlawful use of certificate of profession.

Li was deported in June, according to the immigration department.

Chen’s wife, Neang Srey Leak, 38, told VOD on Tuesday that her husband had been found guilty.

“The court sentenced him to two years in prison,” Srey Leak said. “I’m speechless and I can’t remember anything at all — I don’t know what to do and I’m lost and confused.”

Chen was also ordered to pay 4 million riel, or about $1,000, as a fine, she said. She believed the others in the case were also convicted.

“I feel very saddened … the court decision is beyond our expectation,” she said, adding that she would discuss with her husband whether to file an appeal.

Authorities have conducted a series of raids to remove foreign workers from scam compounds amid rising international pressure — saying nearly 1,000 have been freed so far this year — though they continue to dismiss or downplay claims of detention and torture.

Defense lawyer Sok Chea declined to answer questions about the case. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Court spokesman Ly Chandara said he was still working on issuing a response about the case.

On Wednesday, Chandara said Li was sentenced to one year in jail suspended to three months and five days, while the other three received two years in jail.

Updated at 5:16 p.m. with lawyer and court spokesperson.

Updated on August 31 with court spokesperson.

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