Four charged over human trafficking

Details of another alleged human trafficking ring emerge, just 48 hours after The National reveals a network operating from a hotel apartment.

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ABU DHABI // Fresh details of another alleged human trafficking ring emerged yesterday, just 48 hours after The National revealed that a network had been operating from a hotel apartment in the capital. The latest case, involving two Russians, a Ukrainian and a Syrian, was brought before the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday. Two of the defendants, a Ukrainian woman and a Syrian man, denied charges of prostitution.

"I don't even know what the investigation is about," the Syrian said. He added that he had been surprised by police while he was at work. One of the Russian defendants was not present at the hearing. The other was in custody at a women's shelter in Abu Dhabi. The judge granted a two-week postponement after a lawyer representing the shelter said it had been given only two days' notice to arrange for a defence. As a result, few details about the case were forthcoming at the hearing.

Last month, an Egyptian man, two Russian women and an Uzbek woman were sentenced to three years in prison followed by deportation for operating a prostitution ring in a hotel in Abu Dhabi. The two Russians - a mother and her daughter - lured women to the UAE with promises of employment. Once they arrived, they were introduced to the Uzbek woman, who informed them that they had been bought for prices ranging from Dh40,000 (US$12,000) to Dh45,000, and that they had to work off their debts through prostitution.

A raid of the mother's residence revealed more than two dozen passports thought to belong to women she recruited to the ring.