x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Alleged traffickers 'were aiding women'

The dozen men convicted of forcing 18 Moroccan women into prostitution claim they were only facilitating the women's willful employment.

ABU DHABI // The 12 defendants convicted in Abu Dhabi's largest human-trafficking ring case told the Appeal Court yesterday that they were merely facilitators while the women were working as prostitutes. The court was hearing the men's appeal for the first time. They were convicted in January in the Criminal Court and given sentences from 10 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors said one of the women who was forced into prostitution fled the villa in which she had been held. She contacted police in Ras al Khaimah, who got in touch with authorities in Abu Dhabi. Several raids were conducted across the island, and court documents showed that 18 Moroccan women were rescued. They all maintained that they had been brought to the UAE with promises of legal employment before being forced into prostitution.

The man accused of being the leader of the trafficking operation fled, but was later captured and sentenced this month to life in prison in a separate trial. He presented the court with evidence that the women he is accused of trafficking travelled freely outside the country several times. The Appeal Court adjourned the hearing until prosecutors could present their case. @Email:myoussef@thenational.ae @Email:hhassan@thenational.ae