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A person in jail. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: A Bahraini man, who led a human trafficking gang of nine, and four other members including three women, were jailed for seven years each for human trafficking, Bahraini criminal court has ruled.

“The convicts were found guilty of luring women and forcing them to work as prostitutes,” said prosecutor Marwa Al Nashwan.

Al Nashwan added members of the gang were fined BD 2,000 ($5,297) each and bear the cost of flying the victims to their home countries.

The three Kazakh women will be deported after serving their terms according to Al Nashwan.

The gang leader was also sentenced an extra year for consuming drugs.

Police were tipped off by the Kazakhstan’s embassy in Bahrain, that a woman had been assaulted and forced to work as a prostitute.

The anti-human trafficking department investigations led to the victim and 20 other female victims, all lured and forced to work as prostitutes.

The gang of nine, including three Kazakhistani women, was led by a Bahraini man, who assigned them to lure the victims, welcome them and withhold their passports and cell phones upon arrival to Bahrain, police said.

A gang member, who owns a hotel, was tasked to arrange the women accommodation once they arrive to Bahrain, while the four women promote prostitution and force the victim to offer sex.

The gang leader also ordered the women to beat up the victims if they refused to work hard and raise huge money, according the court documents.

Medical reports showed the victims were tourtured severely by the gang members.

Eventually, a victim has managed to report her ordeal to her country’s embassy.

On sensing danger, the gang leader ordered the woman to immediately fly home, but the police reached on time and took her testimony at the airport.

The police raided the brothel rescued the women and caught the gang members. The police confiscated BD200,000 ($530,000), an unidentified quantity of narcotics and a safe containing the passports of the victims.

The Bahraini government has cracked down on sex trafficking in recent years. Those convicted of it can face between three and 15 years in prison, fines of up to 10,000 Bahraini dinar and bear the cost of repatriating their victims.

Article 325 of Bahrain’s penal code recommends sentences of between two and seven years for forced prostitution and three to 10 years if the victim is a minor.

In 2019, the country’s interior ministry reported 19 potential cases of trafficking, 16 for sex trafficking and three for forced labour, a drop from the 2018 figure of 31, the US State Department found.

The victims were taken to a shelter for medical and psychological care, prosecutors said.