[Stop-traffic] News/Cambodia: Romanian charged with human trafficking in Cambodia

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Cambodia: Romanian charged with human trafficking in Cambodia
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Sep 01 2000 - 12:08:38 EDT

Romanian charged with human trafficking in Cambodia
Agence France Presse, August 16, 2000

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) -- A Romanian woman was charged with human
trafficking Wednesday in a Cambodian court after police raided a hotel and
rescued seven Eastern Europeans said to have been forced into prostitution,
officials said.

The Phnom Penh municipal court also charged Topirceanu Norica, 30, with
forcing the women, aged between 18 and 24, to work as call girls.

"Norica has been charged with human trafficking and forced prostitution,"
said municipal court clerk Say Heng.

Richard Cheung, the Canadian-Chinese owner of the Best Western hotel, where
the girls were held, and his Singaporean manager were not charged and were
released from military police custody, according to court officials and UN
rights workers involved in the case.

"Although Cheung has not been charged with anything yet, he may be called
in for more questioning as an accomplice," said Say Heng.

The lawyer for the two men, Long Norrin, confirmed his clients had been freed.

"My clients are now free from any charges because they were not involved.
They were victims," he said.

However, Marlene Alejos, head of the United Nation's human rights
monitoring and protection unit, told AFP the UN would continue pushing for

"The file has been passed to the investigating judge and he is looking at
it," she said.

Police and UN human rights officers raided the Best Western hotel on
Monivong Boulevard Sunday, freeing six young women from Romania and Moldova.

A seventh woman, who according to rights workers and police was with a
senior official from the tourism authority at the time of the raid, was
rescued later in the day.

"Until we see the outcome (of this case) it is hard to say what we expect.
But we are definitely putting a lot of pressure on the authorities, that's
for sure," Alejos told AFP earlier.

The women are now in UN custody. The UN were contacted by relatives of one
of the girls last week and tipped off the authorities.

Police said during the raid they discovered photographs of at least 11
young European women available to wealthy clients and they were now
searching for them.

One women told AFP they had begun their journey in Romania, from where they
had been transported to Turkey and then on to Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

They said Norika advertised for dancers in a Bucharest newspaper, and that
on arrival in Cambodia they were met by Cheung, who confiscated their
passports and airplane tickets.

Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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