United Arab Emirates royalty may face up to 10 years
Seven members of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates have been named official suspects for people trafficking.28 July 2008
BELGIUM - Belgian prosecutors have named seven members of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates as official suspects in a case of suspected people-trafficking.
The seven were keeping 17 domestic staff as what one Belgian newspaper describes as "house slaves".
The daily Het Laatste Nieuws reports that those now officially named as suspects include Sheikha Hamda, her four daughters and an eighth person, their staff manager.
Brussels labour inspectors raided the fourth floor of the Conrad Hotel in which the suspects had been staying for eight months in early July.
An investigation started after a Moroccan domestic worker had managed to escape and alert the authorities.
Eleven of the domestic workers were granted the status of "victim of people-trafficking" in Belgium.
Jan Geysen of the labour inspection told het Laatste Nieuws that the seven members of the royal family and the staff manager were accused of social economic exploitation and could be sentenced to ten years in jail.
Meanwhile all eight have left the country. The eight have been told that they have to be at the disposal of the Belgian judicial authorities.
If they do not comply, Interpol could be alerted. An extradition warrant will not be issued because the offences are not deemed to be serious enough.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]