UAE officer fights US civil case over ‘trafficked’ maid

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Emirati naval officer faces charges over claims he kept maid in slave-like conditions

By Joanne Bladd

An Emirati naval officer accused of luring a Filipino servant to the US and keeping her in virtual slavery has asked a federal judge to stay a civil lawsuit brought against him by the housemaid.

 

An attorney for Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali said in a court filing the lawsuit should be postponed while the criminal charges are pending, newswire AP reported.

The civil and criminal actions claim Al-Ali committed human trafficking offenses by bringing the woman to the US, failing to pay her and confiscating her passport.

Al-Ali, a student at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, has denied the charges.

During an arraignment hearing in April, the US District Court in Providence heard Al-Ali had brought the woman to the US in July 2010 to work as a household servant for himself, his wife and his five children.

Al-Ali and the woman signed a contract that stipulated she would be employed as a housemaid, to work 40 hours a week for $10 an hour, assistant US attorney Mary Rogers said.

Instead, Al-Ali forced her to work seven days a week, often until midnight, without pay and refused to let her leave the house alone or speak to anyone, the court was told.

When approached by US investigators in February, Al-Ali produced a signed document indicating he had paid the woman $19,000. Investigators found there was no evidence of the payments, the court heard.

Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Speaking in April, Victoria Walton for the defense said misunderstandings and the language barrier may have impacted Al-Ali’s interactions with investigators. She said he was a respected member of the navy and had no previous criminal record.

Al-Ali was released on bail pending trial. His was ordered to restrict his movements to the state of Rhode Island unless he needs to travel for his studies.

Source: Arabian Business

 

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