Pizzeria Manager Gets 8 Years for Sex Trafficking

The former manager of a Phnom Penh pizzeria was on Tuesday convicted of “unlawful removal with purpose” in relation to a sex trafficking case and jailed for eight years.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Presiding Judge Svay Tonh also ordered Moldovan national Liudmila Bejenari, 28, to pay 30 million riel, or about $7,500, to the plaintiff—whose name has been withheld.

In a July 6 trial, the 19-year-old victim, who is also Moldovan, testified that the former manager of Ga Do Italian Pizza & Wine forced her to work without pay and have sex with the pizzeria’s clientele after she arrived in Cambodia in August 2014.

Ms. Bejenari’s lawyer, Sok Chea, said on Tuesday of the verdict: “It is harsh for my client because all witnesses exculpated her.”

Ms. Bejenari has been detained at Prey Sar prison since her arrest in a June 2015 anti-trafficking raid and has maintained her innocence.

During trial, she claimed the victim had signed a contract agreeing to work without salary for one year in order to repay her debts, including airfare and passport fees.

The victim, who made a frantic call to her parents in 2015 that prompted the raid, has since returned to her native Moldova.

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