Human kidney trade arrests in P. Penh

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian police said Thursday that two local people had been arrested for trafficking in human kidneys and had confessed to their involvement.

Police Lt Col Keo Thea said the suspects were arrested Tuesday night in the capital following a complaint filed by one of five people who each sold a kidney through them. One was only 15 at the time the removal procedure was carried out in Thailand.

Stories about organ trading have spread for years, but Thea said it is the first such case to be uncovered by his unit, which was set up to stamp out human trafficking and ensure protection of children.

He said the two suspects, 29-year-old Yem Asisas and her stepfather Nhem Phalla, 40, run a small coffee shop in the city. They confessd to having brokered the sale of human kidneys for between $10,000 and $13,000 to Cambodian patients in need of a kidney transplant.

Four of people who sold their kidneys told police they received up $5,000 each, but the 15-year-old, who has since turned 16, claimed he got only $3,000.

According to Keo Thea, after arriving in Thailand, the kidney donors were given fake documents by a Thai dealer, with their surnames changed in order to match them with the patients in need of a kidney transplant.

The suspects, due in court later Thursday to hear charges, face from seven to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

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