Scheme at military hospital the second spate of arrests of alleged organ traffickers this year
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Nine people alleged to have been involved in an organ trafficking racket have been arrested at a Cambodian military hospital, local media reported Monday.
It is the second spate of arrests of alleged organ traffickers this year, despite the phenomenon being relatively new in the country.
Among those arrested at the Preah Ket Melea military hospital, a state-run institution, were the hospital's director and deputy director as well as a Chinese doctor who was there providing training, The Cambodia Daily reported.
"The Chinese person is a doctor and he is a professor, and he was invited to the hospital. He is not here forever, he is here when needed," the paper reported Keo Thea, head of Phnom Penh's anti-human trafficking police, as saying.
Three Vietnamese patients at the hospital were also detained, she said.
However, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh told The Daily that all operations at the hospital were voluntary, denying allegations of an organ racket.
Vietnamese patients regularly "come to the hospital to get help from our doctors," the paper reported Banh as saying.
"One is a patient and another one is the one who offers [the kidney]," he said.
However, a local online Khmer-language newspaper quoted a number of the military hospital's doctors as saying that there has been an organ-trafficking ring at the hospital for years.
"The price of a kidney costs from $35,000 to $40,000 and most of the kidney transplants are for Chinese and the sellers are Cambodian nationals," Deum Ampil newspaper quoted an unnamed doctor as saying.
In July, Cambodian police arrested a woman accused of brokering kidneys to patients at Thai hospitals - the first reported case of organ trafficking in Cambodia.
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