Mother, 4 men cleared of exploiting girls in spa

Defence lawyer tells appeal court her client worked as clerk, was not connected to girls in spa

Gulf News

Dubai: Four men and a woman won their appeals and were acquitted of luring the woman’s two minor daughters to Dubai and forcing them to perform sexual activities at a spa.

The Pakistani mother, S.K., allegedly agreed with her 41-year-old countryman spa manager, Z.M., to bring her two teenage daughters [under 16] to work as masseuses in the spa and coercing them to indulge in indecent activities with men between May 2014 and June 2016.

In August, the Dubai Court of First Instance acquitted S.K., Z.M. and their three countrymen, O.M., a hairdresser, M.A., an office boy, and F.A., a clerk, of exploiting the teenage girls sexually.

Prosecutors appealed the primary ruling and asked the Appeal Court to overturn the suspects’ acquittal and have them punished.

The suspects pleaded not guilty before the appellate court and denied taking advantage of the girls’ weakness and exploiting them sexually at the spa.

Citing lack of substantiated and corroborate evidence, presiding judge Eisa Al Sharif dismissed prosecutors’ appeal and upheld the primary ruling.

Records said a labour inspector was on a routine inspection tour when he discovered the illegal practices at the spa and by coincidence, he also discovered that a 15-year-old Pakistani girl [one of the daughters] had been hired as a masseuse in Al Karama.

The inspector reported the matter to the police before further investigations revealed the involvement of three other Pakistani suspects.

O.M.’s lawyer, Ma’asoumah Al Sayegh, of Dar Al Balagh Advocates and Legal Consultants, argued before the Appeal Court: “Prosecutors’ evidence were unsubstantiated and very weak to indict my client, who denied all his accusations from day one. Prosecution witnesses gave inconsistent and contradicting statements. Besides, my client had nothing to do with the girls … he was not their manager or supervisor. He was not connected to them. Law enforcement officers apprehended my client without a proper arrest warrant. Meanwhile, lawyer enforcement procedures were carried out improperly against O.M.”

F.A. picked up the girl up from the airport and took her to a flat, according to prosecution records, where she was locked up for a while before the suspects forced her to work as a masseuse and coerced her to please clients sexually, according to records.

“I did not commit any human trafficking crime. I worked as a clerk in the spa ... I did not force the girl into any illegal practices,” O.M told the appellate court.

The Pakistani teenager had claimed that the incident happened after her father divorced her 37-year-old mother, who married an 18-year-old man.

“My mother convinced my sister and I to go with her to Dubai to pursue our schooling. We came here and waited for around a month in a flat in 2014. We weren’t sent to school and instead we were coerced to please men with indecent services at the spa. We were beaten, scolded and forced to do an indecent job,” she claimed.

The Emirati labour inspector reported the matter to Dubai Police’s human trafficking department immediately after discovering the illegal practices taking place at the spa during his routine inspection visit.

A police corporal claimed to prosecutors that after obtaining the required warrant, police raided the spa, freed the girl and arrested O.M., M.A. and F.A.

In her defence argument, lawyer Al Sayegh contended: “O.M. was not aware that the girls were being forced to work in the spa … on the contrary, they were free to do whatever they wanted and always left the spa of their free will. One of the girls had her own Facebook account and communicated with many friends. She lived a happy life and was constantly entertained … that contradicts what the Dubai Woman and Children Foundation’s report mentioned that she lives miserably at the spa.”

The appellate ruling remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 28 days.