8 Emirati princesses convicted of human trafficking in Belgium

Court hands women from Abu Dhabi's ruling al-Nahyan family 15-month suspended sentences for human trafficking


News Desk/ Reuters June 24, 2017
The case dates back to 2008 but only came to court this year, after the defence's many procedural challenges PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS: Eight Emirati princesses were convicted of human trafficking by a Belgian court on Friday and were given suspended jail terms and fines in a case stemming from their treatment of servants at a Brussels luxury hotel nearly 10 years ago, their lawyer said.

The Brussels criminal court handed the eight women from Abu Dhabi's ruling al-Nahyan family 15-month suspended sentences for human trafficking and degrading treatment, the lawyer, Stephen Monod, said. He said the defense was pleased the case was finally resolved after nearly a decade.

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"Belgian justice has appropriately assessed this case which has generated many misconceptions," he said in a statement. The defendants were acquitted of the more serious charge of inhuman treatment but also ordered to pay a fine of $184,000, with half the sum suspended.

Sheikh Hamda al-Nahyan and her seven daughters had not attended the trial and the human rights activists stated that it was "highly unlikely" that the UAE extradite them even if they had been jailed. The case appeared to the Belgian government after one of the servants escaped from the hotel where the princesses were staying.

His recollection of the stay included 24 hours availability, sleeping on the floor, no day off, not being allowed to leave the hotel, and to survive on the princesses' leftovers. They were acquitted of the more serious charge of inhumane treatment. The case took nine years to get under way, partly due to legal challenges to proceedings by the defence.


The case was brought after a servant of the family slipped out of the hotel where the women stayed for several months in 2007 and 2008 and complained to Belgian police.


A Belgian rights group which helped bring the case to court placed specific emphasis on the importance of Friday's judgment. They stated that the judgment was not important because it involved international princesses of a prestigious hotel, but that of domestic abuse and human trafficking.


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"Domestic personnel hailing from all over the world, employed in an administrative and social limbo, in a secluded area presumed beyond the reach of the rule of law, were heard in a court of law and recognised as victims of human trafficking," the activists stated.


COMMENTS (2)

Mekal Faruki | 5 years ago | Reply UAE fake royalty, they have money from stolen oil resources, they act like children buying overpriced garbage to impress everyone, underneath all this they are uncivilized petty people. Such great wealth they cannot afford to buy beds for their servants or hire enough servants so they get a day off in a week. Really wealthy people pay their servants well and allow them a day off in a week. Only miskeen royal people have no money to pay servants. Looks like UAE royalty are the real miskeen.
Amir | 5 years ago | Reply and these arab sheikhs are looked up as protector of our faith
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