x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE chasing clues from trafficking trial

UAE authorities vow to follow up any leads that came to light during the trial of three sisters convicted in Armenia.

ABU DHABI // UAE authorities have vowed to follow up any leads that came to light during the trial of three sisters convicted in Armenia of sending hundreds of women to Dubai to work in the sex trade. Anoush Martirosyan, 40, led the trafficking ring that for years lured Armenian women to the Emirates, often with the promise of tax-free jobs as waitresses and nannies, before forcing them to work as prostitutes. She was sentenced to 13 years in prison on April 20. Her sisters Sofya Martirosyan and Sonya Gabrielyan were given five- and one-year terms, respectively.

But more members of the ring, including a sinister figure in Dubai referred to by the girls as "Ponytail Ali", were mentioned frequently during testimony. Dr Saeed al Ghufli, rapporteur for the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said authorities would investigate any information from Armenian authorities. "Of course if any names are given in evidence and are passed on to the UAE, the authorities will try to follow up that information and investigate," he said, adding that he welcomed the conviction.

Lt Col Abdul Raheem bin Shafee, head of the organised crime division of the Dubai Police, said authorities were doing everything they could to fight human trafficking. But he declined to comment directly on the details of the Armenian case. lmorris@thenational.ae