Taiwanese woman jailed for trafficking Cambodian fishermen

PHNOM PENH - A Taiwanese woman was on Tuesday jailed for 10 years by a Cambodian court for trafficking hundreds of people to work in slave-like conditions on fishing boats off Africa.

Lin Yu Shin, owner of the now-defunct Giant Ocean International Co. Ltd, was arrested in the Cambodian tourist hub of Siem Reap last year.

Five of her associates, who remain at large, were convicted in their absence and also handed 10-year sentences by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Lin's firm allegedly began sending Cambodian workers to work on trawlers off the coasts of South Africa, Mauritius and Senegal in 2009 as well as Japan, Fiji, Qatar and Malaysia.

Police said last year that about 700 Cambodians were sent to work on the boats, resulting in more than 200 people filing complaints for unpaid wages.

The court ordered Lin and her associates to jointly pay more than 150 victims between $1,750 and $15,900 each in damages and compensation.

Dozens of victims and their family members were in court for the verdict.

"The company sent me to work on a Taiwanese fishing boat in Africa with a promise of $200 a month. We worked night and day for almost 24 hours, but we did not get paid," said Keo Tol, 33.

Tol told AFP he was sent to Africa in 2011 and was rescued and sent back home a year later.

"If we did not work, we would be beaten. We did not have enough sleep. We worked on the boat like slaves," Tol said.

In a separate case last year, 22 Cambodians trafficked onto Thai fishing boats were rescued near the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.