x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Alleged traffickers sent for trial

Ten men accused of running a trafficking ring that lured Asian women to the country and forced them into the sex trade referred to Abu Dhabi Criminal Court for trial.

ABU DHABI // Ten men accused of running a trafficking ring that lured Asian women to the country and forced them into the sex trade using physical and mental torture have been referred to Abu Dhabi Criminal Court for trial. The suspects, whose details have not been disclosed, face charges including human trafficking, forced prostitution, and the torture of their 17 victims, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said. They are also charged with possessing and selling pornography and alcohol after "large stocks" were found by police when they arrested the men.

Prosecutors have asked for the toughest punishment under the law - life imprisonment, followed by deportation. The group is said to have promised women from Asia jobs as beauticians and masseuses and salaries of up to Dh6,000 per month. However, upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the women were allegedly taken to a private house and their passports were confiscated. The ring operated legitimate businesses - an antiques and gifts shop and a restaurant - to cover up their illegal activities, enabling them to obtain work permits and visas for the women, it is alleged.

The suspects admitted using physical and psychological torture to force the women into the sex trade, the department said. In 2006, the UAE became the first Arab country to pass a law addressing human trafficking. @Email:vtodorova@thenational.ae