x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

'Sex slave victim' may give evidence

A young woman, lured to the UAE by a bogus job offer, suffered a nightmare ordeal at the hands of human traffickers and will be called to testify in court.

DUBAI // A young woman lured to the UAE by a bogus job offer suffered a nightmare ordeal at the hands of human traffickers - and will be called to testify in court, a defence lawyer said yesterday. The 22-year-old Kyrgyzstani was enslaved, raped, beaten and tortured for five days, according to court documents. She had been tricked into accepting a job as a pastry chef, but discovered on her arrival that she had been sold into prostitution, it was alleged. It is rare for victims to testify in such cases.

But the defence lawyer, Harun Tahlak, said it was important to present her as a material witness along with the investigating officer in the case. "In a human trafficking charge, the death penalty could be handed down to the defendants, therefore it is crucial to hear all the witness testimonies," Mr Tahlak said outside court. Two Uzbekistani women, two Afghan men and a Pakistani man are charged with human trafficking, rape, prostitution, operating a brothel, assault and aiding and abetting a crime. NT, KS, KJ, KI, and MH, aged 26 to 38, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecution documents said the woman landed in the UAE on April 28 last year after a Kyrgyzstani woman offered her work for US$500 (Dh1,800) a month. Her compatriot, who is now on the run, and one of the Uzbekistani suspects, KS, met her at the airport and took her to a flat in Al Baraha, in Deira. The next day, the alleged victim was told that she had been bought from her compatriot for Dh32,000 and would be working as a prostitute.

When she refused, she was beaten and raped by the three male defendants before 10 more men were brought in to beat her and rape her, prosecutors said. She was repeatedly raped and beaten by the defendants over the next few days while the two female suspects encouraged them and helped to beat her into submission, it was alleged. At the same time, the woman was locked inside the flat and forced to cook, clean and do the defendants' laundry.

The woman told prosecutors that she was threatened at knifepoint by an Afghan suspect, KJ. KS drove her to the house of a "client", where she was raped three times, sustaining injuries in the process. The next day, a taxi driver taking her home noticed her bruises and signs of abuse, and took her to the Kyrgyzstani Consulate in Dubai, which alerted the police. The woman was currently at the Dubai Women's and Children's Centre, the documents said.

Prosecutors said three other suspects are at large. The trial was adjourned until March 4, when the woman is due to be cross-examined by the defence. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae