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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Human traffickers tried to sell maid on WhatsApp, court hears

Two defendants jailed while third man remains on the run

Three men who attempted to force a maid into prostitution before trying to sell her on social media will have to complete their prison sentences.

The Bangladeshi defendants - aged between 25 and 30 - were convicted of human trafficking and each jailed for five years.

Dubai Criminal Court heard how the Ethiopian maid first arrived in the UAE in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.

But eight months later an Indonesian colleague working for the same sponsor persuaded her to abscond to Dubai for a job paying Dh3,000 a day.

“I asked her what kind of job it was but she never gave me details,” the victim said.

Detailing her ordeal to the court, the Ethiopian maid described being picked up from her sponsor’s home by two of the Bangladeshi defendants in June last year.

She was driven to an apartment in Al Karama in Dubai where she and her Indonesian friend were introduced to a number of other women.

The next day the pair were bought new clothes, including what was described as indecently short dresses.

“They told me it was for work,” the Ethiopian maid said. “When I saw the clothes I panicked - they were all short and indecent.

“I asked what kind of work required me to dress like that and they told me it was prostitution.”

Over the next 10 days, the three defendants attempted to force the maid into working for them as a prostitute.

When she repeatedly refused and demanded to be sent back to her sponsor they changed tactic – using WhatsApp to advertise her for sale for Dh3,500.

“We were tipped off about the advert and a police officer contacted the defendants pretending to be interested in buying the woman,” an Emirati police lieutenant told the hearing.

“He agreed on paying Dh3,400 after they sent him a picture of her and the three decided to meet in Al Karma park so he could pay them and take her.”

When the three men arrived to meet the undercover policeman, two were arrested while the third fled.

“The youngest defendant admitted he had asked his Indonesian girlfriend, who worked with the victim, to convince her to abscond so they could work in prostitution,” the officer said.

“He also said that he had been deported twice and managed to get back illegally.”

The second arrested defendant also confessed to prosecutors but claimed that the man who escaped police had masterminded the enterprise.

“When she [the Ethiopian maid] refused to prostitute herself, the at-large defendant asked me to sell her,” said one defendant.

Officers later raided the defendants’ homes and found contraceptives and money transfer receipts found to be linked to prostitution.

The two detained men denied human trafficking and facilitating prostitution when they appeared in court in September last year.

Both were found guilty, fined Dh100,000 each and ordered to be deported after completing their sentence.

The third defendant was found guilty in absentia.