x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

US trial date for officer over servant

Prosecutors said he brought a woman from the Philippines to the US to work as a servant, then took her passport and did not pay her or allow her to leave the home without an escort.

A trial date has been set in the US for an Emirati naval officer accused of holding an unpaid Filipina servant in confinement at his home.

Col Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed al Ali is scheduled to go to court on July 18 and has waived his right to a jury so that he could have a speedier trial, his lawyer said.

Mr al Ali, who had been studying at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, was arrested last month and pleaded not guilty to visa fraud and lying to a government official.

Prosecutors said he brought a woman from the Philippines to the US to work as a servant, then took her passport and did not pay her or allow her to leave the home without an escort.

A federal magistrate judge released him on personal recognisance, but he was arrested a week later by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement after boarding an international flight in New York City with his family.

He was later released on US$100,000 (Dh367,000) bail and ordered not to leave his home.

Mr al Ali had employed the woman as a babysitter in Abu Dhabi for more than three years before moving the family to the US last July, his lawyer, Robert Clark Corrente, said.

They had entered into an employment contract before relocating and the woman was paid $19,000 (Dh69,730) in full for the year, he said. But the woman disappeared after three months and "now claims she never received any of the money".

He anticipates that the trial will take about a week. "This will come down to the testimony of the babysitter against his testimony, and his position is that her story is largely fabricated," he said.

econroy@thenational.ae