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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cambodian couple arrested for torturing young girl

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A Cambodian schoolteacher and her husband have been charged for repeatedly torturing an 11-year-old girl they bought to be their domestic helper and held captive for more than a year, a court official said Monday.  Prosecutor Heung Bunchea said Meas Neary, a high school teacher in Phnom Penh, and her husband, Va Sarouen, a retired Ministry of Education official, were charged with torture and human trafficking in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.  If convicted, they could face 25 years in prison, he said.  Acting on a tip from the couple's neighbors, police arrested them Friday while they were fleeing in a car with the girl, said Major Mok Hong, of the Sen Sok district.  The girl's body was covered with more than 200 wounds, which were allegedly inflicted by the suspects, he said.  "The couple said that they beat the girl with coat hangers, brooms, electric wires, and sometimes used pliers to pull her flesh," Mok Hong said.  The couple paid $400 to the girl's 62-year-old guardian in early 2008 for the girl to help with domestic chores, Mok Hong said, adding that the girl's parents were both deceased.  Heung Bunchea said the girl's former guardian, Thoeng Reth, was also charged with human trafficking for selling the girl to the couple.  The girl 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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