x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Shopkeeper appeals human trafficking sentence

A shopkeeper convicted of human trafficking was never questioned by prosecutors or justices, an appeal court has been told.

ABU DHABI // A man convicted of human trafficking was never questioned by prosecutors or justices, an appeal court heard on Sunday.

WM, from China, who lived in Abu Dhabi and kept an antiques and gift shop, was sentenced in July by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance to more than five years in prison for leading a human trafficking ring.

He was convicted, along with eight others, of luring 18 Thai women into the country by promising them jobs as beauticians and masseuses with salaries of Dh6,000 per month.

But his lawyer, Amal al Zaabi, told the Abu Dhabi Appellate Court her client was not allowed to testify.

The eight other defendants were also appealing their convictions.

Mrs al Zaabi said another issue was that the defendants could not confront the alleged victims in court, as the women were told they could leave the country on July 28, while the case was ongoing.

In addition to the trafficking charges, WM was sentenced to one month in prison for possessing alcohol and another month for possessing pornography. He also denied those charges.

The eight other defendants from Thailand and China were each sentenced to three years in prison for assisting and facilitating the trafficking. Two men, TK, from Thailand, and SM, from Singapore, who worked as drivers for the women, were sentenced to an additional one month in prison for possessing alcohol.

Charges against a Thai woman were later dropped. Those whose convictions are upheld will be deported after serving their prison terms.

A verdict is to be issued on December 19.

 

hhassan@thenational.ae