US couple convicted of 'slavery' - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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US couple convicted of 'slavery'

US couple convicted of 'slavery'

The women said for years they were beaten, scalded
with hot water and forced to eat their own vomit

A wealthy New York couple has been found guilty of keeping two Indonesian women they brought to the US as housekeepers in "modern-day slavery".

Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, were convicted of forced labour, involuntary servitude, harbouring illegal residents and conspiracy.

Varsha Sabhnani and one of the couple's daughters fainted and were taken to hospital after a jury in federal court in Central Islip, New York, found the couple guilty of 12 counts, a court official said on Monday.

They each face up to 40 years in prison.

The couple were allowed to return to their multi-million dollar home after Varsha Sabhnani was released from hospital but have to appear in court again on Tuesday.

Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani and Varsha run a
multimillion-dollar perfume business

The judge also ordered the jury to return on Tuesday so that each juror could be individually polled to confirm the verdict.

Prosecutors said the couple, both US citizens born in India, brought two women, identified only as Samirah, 51, and Enung, 47, to the US from Indonesia with promises to pay them $200 a month for housekeeping duties.

But the women testified that they were paid only $100 to $150 a month and had their passports confiscated.

They said that for years they were subjected to beatings with rolling pins and brooms, scalding with hot water and being forced to eat their own vomit and chilli peppers for "offences" such as sleeping late or eating food from the rubbish.

Found on streets

Prosecutors said the women were forced to sleep on mats and had to steal food to get enough to eat.

The women said they were punished for
"offences" such as eating from the rubbish

Defence lawyers argued that the women injured themselves in witchcraft rituals, made up the story of being abused and were looking for a way to remain in the US.

They plan to appeal against the decision. Samirah was found by the authorities in May wandering the streets dressed only in pants and a towel after escaping from the couple's home in Muttontown, New York, where they run a multimillion-dollar perfume business.

She was treated at a local hospital for injuries to her ears, face, arms, neck, chest and back that she told officials were caused by torture inflicted by Varsha Sabhnani.

Enung was found by the authorities in the home hiding in a closet.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 07:11 AM
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