Kuantan Court Complex in Pahang, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

A 65-year-old guesthouse owner from Kuantan in Malaysia, who pleaded not guilty to trafficking two Indonesian women for labor, has been released on bail of 12,000 ringgits (US$2,934) pending a hearing early next month.

The defendant, surnamed Chen, was arrested on November 29 on suspicion that he was involved in trafficking the two women and forcing them to work as maids at a site in Bandar Indera Mahkota, Kuantan, China Press reported.

Chen, who reportedly earned between 10,000 and 15,000 ringgits a month, allegedly violated Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act 2007. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

A lawyer for Chen asked for him to be granted bail, saying his client had chronic diseases – high blood pressure and diabetes, and a sick wife to attend to.

The matter is due to be heard in court from January 2 to 5, 2018.