x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

10 charged with trafficking women

People ran a human trafficking ring and lured 18 Thai women into the country with promises of lucrative jobs before forcing them into prostitution, court hears.

ABU DHABI // Ten people ran a human trafficking ring and lured 18 Thai women into the country with promises of lucrative jobs and forced them into prostitution, the Criminal Court of First Instance heard yesterday. WM, from China, and WA, from Thailand, are accused of leading the human trafficking ring and forcing the girls into prostitution after enticing them into the country promising them high-paying massage jobs in Abu Dhabi. Eight other defendants, from China, Thailand and Singapore, were charged with assisting and facilitating the sex trade.

All 10 defendants denied the charges yesterday. WM, who lived in Abu Dhabi and had an antiques and gift shop, told prosecutors he only rented the rooms to the women and that he was not aware of their activities outside the house. "They disappear in the evening and they come back to the house at two or three in the morning," he told prosecutors, according to court records. WA arranged for the women to come to the country, court records say. She told her aunt in Thailand she had job vacancies for beauticians and masseuses and asked her to find applicants, promising a monthly salary of Dh6,000.

After arriving on June 15, they were told the massage shop was not yet open and they had to work in clubs and hotels in order to bring in Dh300 each day for rent. However one of the girls spoke to a man on her flight from Bangkok, who expressed surprise at the amount of money they had been promised. He gave them his mobile phone number and asked them to call if they needed help. One of the victims, identified as LS, called the man after she realised she had been deceived. He gave her the Thai Embassy contact number and she called the embassy. All of the 18 women are being housed in the Ewa'a shelter in Abu Dhabi, where they will be kept for a maximum of six months.

The judge adjourned the hearing until July 27. hhassan@thenational.ae