Sunday, 21 February 2010

Cambodians jailed for torturing 11-year-old maid

Associated Press

A Cambodian schoolteacher and her husband were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for torturing an 11-year-old girl they had purchased to be their domestic helper and held captive for more than a year, an official said Saturday.

Meas Neary, 41, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and her husband, Va Sarouen, a 62-year-old retired Ministry of Education official, will serve 10 years behind bars, said judge Chan Madina.

Police arrested the couple in October, acting on a tip from neighbors that their young maid was being abused.

Officers found that the girl's body was covered with more than 200 wounds that the couple said they had inflicted with coat hangers, brooms, electric wires, and sometimes used pliers to pull her flesh, police said at the time.

The Phnom Penh Municipal court convicted the couple on Friday on charges of torture and human trafficking. Each had faced a maximum of 25 years in prison.

The couple had paid $400 to the girl's 62-year-old guardian in early 2008 for the girl to help with domestic chores, authorities said. Both of the child's parents were deceased.

Desperately poor Cambodia has been working to crack down on the buying and selling of children for domestic work, brothels or street-begging rings inside and outside the country.

The court also sentenced the girl's former guardian, Thoeng Reth, to five years in prison for human trafficking, the judge said.

All three were also ordered to pay a combined 20 million riel ($2,000) in compensation to the victim. The girl, who was not identified, is now in the care of a Swiss-based Christian organization, Hagar International, which provides assistance to victims of trafficking and exploitation.

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