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October 31, 2015

Nine arrested for human trafficking in southeastern United States

Nine arrested for human trafficking in southeastern United States

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

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Nine people were arrested on Thursday at cities in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi and have been charged as part of a 32-court federal indictment in an interstate human trafficking case. According to William Thornton from AL.com “the indictment was announced by Christopher P. Canova, Acting United States Attorney from the Northern District of Florida.”

According to the indictment, between July 2015 and August of this year, the defendants transported, housed and marketed women for prostitution in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They took the proceeds and wired them out of the country.

“Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, and Emerson Corvera, 30, both of Montgomery, were arrested along with defendants in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia,” William Thornton reported.

The nine arrested were also charged with three counts of enticing individuals to travel to engage in prostitution, seven counts of transporting people to engage in prostitution, four counts of money laundering, six counts of harbouring an alien for the purpose of prostitution and illegal entry by a deported alien.

This case resulted from a 15-month investigation into human trafficking activities in the Northern District of Florida by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) – Panama City Resident Agent in Charge.

According to Kelsey Davis from Montgomery Advertiser, “The indictment also says at least 26 women were involved, who were sold for $30 per session. The price was later raised to $40 because the defendants allegedly stated they weren’t making enough of a profit at the former price.”

According to the FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation, the defendants are:

  • Edegardo Osorno Rodriguez, 37, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Antonio Flores-Esparza, 31, Pensacola, Florida;
  • Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, Montgomery, Alabama;
  • Jose Alvaro Trujillo-Santiz, 45, Panama City Beach, Florida;
  • Rosa Mirtha Cruz Vidal, 34, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Mauro Gonzalez-Lira, 24, McComb, Mississippi;
  • Romon Tobon, 45, Starkville, Mississippi;
  • Lazaro Juarez-Juarez, 33, Atlanta, Georgia; and
  • Emerson Corvera, 30, Montgomery, Alabama.



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August 27, 2015

Austrian police find dozens dead inside lorry

Austrian police find dozens dead inside lorry

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

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The turning for Parndorf off the A4, from file. The lorry was found on the road nearby.
Image: My Friend.

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Austrian police today found an estimated 20–50 decomposing corpses in an apparently abandoned lorry.

Roadworkers who spotted the vehicle, which had been there since yesterday at least, alerted police. Responding officers found it full of corpses. The lorry is on the so-called “Eastern Motorway“, the A4, close to the Hungarian border. It was on the hard shoulder between Neusiedl and Parndorf, closer to Parndorf.

The victims are thought to have suffocated. Police are seeking the driver. The Krone published an image of a non-articulated food lorry on the hard shoulder, which they report is the vehicle in question. The photo shows a pool of dark liquid on the ground beside the vehicle.

Video from a passing motorist shows at least one helicopter on-scene. The truck, which has pictures of meat on the side, shows branding for Slovakian food firm Hyza. Earlier today the company’s website sported an apparent anti-immigration graphic, which has since been removed.

Wikinews got in touch with Hyza. “We are truly sorry about [the] tragedy” they told us in a statement. They said they have checked GPS trackers on their fleet and all their vehicles remain in Slovakia. The statement says the lorry in question was one of 21 Hyza vehicles sold on last year. It was then sold again and exported to Hungary, where it is now registered. Hyza told us the new owners have not changed the branding on the vehicle. According to the Bild newspaper, Agrofert — the parent company of Hyza — said in a statement the new owners were required to do so.

Hyza says they will “actively cooperate with Slovak police”, and “express [their] sincere condolences to the bereaved families.”

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner called it “a dark day” and called for European Union-wide measures to protect immigrant refugees and tackle human traffickers. Neighbouring Hungary is constructing a border fence across its entire frontier with Serbia. Yesterday alone saw a record 3,241 attempts to enter Hungary illegally, according to authorities there.

Conflict in Syria and other parts of the world has led refugees to Europe. Once inside, they can move freely inside the Schengen Area, which covers most of the EU.

Austrian police earlier this week arrested three motorists suspected of people smuggling. One driver is accused of moving 34 people, ten of them children, into Austria from Serbia. The group were left by the roadside near Bruck an der Leitha and reported struggling to breathe in the van.



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November 22, 2013

Police announce rescue of three women held captive in London home for 30 years

Police announce rescue of three women held captive in London home for 30 years

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Friday, November 22, 2013

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Image: Man vyi.

London’s Metropolitan Police announced yesterday they conducted an operation last month to rescue three women held as slaves for thirty years in a house in Lambeth, south London. They were freed on October 25 after one of the women reported her situation to a non-profit dealing with forced marriage cases.

Police said: “Police were contacted in October by Freedom Charity after they had received a call from a woman stating she had been held against her will in a house in London for more than 30 years. Further inquiries by police revealed the location of the house and with the help of sensitive negotiations conducted by the charity the three women, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman, were all rescued.”

The three women were allegedly held in captivity by two 67-year-olds, a man and a woman, who were both arrested and released on bail until January. The 30-year-old woman has had “no contact with the outside world”, police said.

Police called it the worst case of slavery in modern-day Britain.

Freedom Charity, the non-profit which reported the case to the police, was contacted by the Irish woman who had seen a documentary on ITV about forced marriages. A week after the call was made, and after further investigations by the police, the women were freed.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the human trafficking unit at the Metropolitan Police, said they had “never seen anything of this magnitude before” and said the women were “highly traumatised”.



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May 30, 2012

Charles Taylor gets 50 years for war crimes

Charles Taylor gets 50 years for war crimes

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, has been today handed a 50-year sentence for war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The court previously held he financed a war which left an estimated 50,000 dead.

A school destroyed by RUF rebels.
Image: Laura Lartigue.

Taylor, 64, is considered likely to remain incarcerated for life if the sentence stands, but his legal team has vowed to appeal. The prosecution sought an 80-year sentence. Taylor’s is the first conviction of a head of state by an international tribunal since the fallout from World War Two, when the Nuremberg trials were underway.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is operating from the Netherlands to avoid unrest if Taylor were tried in Africa, spent more than a year deliberating before convicting Taylor last month. Acquitted of ordering crimes or of acting in a joint enterprise to conduct them, he was nonetheless convicted of aiding and abetting the offences. There were 94 prosecution witnesses and 21 for the defence.

The allegations date to civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran from 1991 to 2002. Taylor, who had been a warlord since the ’80s, backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Taylor was elected Liberian president in 1997 after a different civil war concluded.

Six years later he was ousted when an arrest warrant was issued and fled to Nigeria. He was arrested there in 2006 whilst again trying to flee and went on trial later that year. Taylor, who had been facing a rebellion against him since 1999 in Liberia, received training from late Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Testimony included claims that Taylor-backed fighters adorned roads with human intestines and ate human flesh. One claimed to have seen Taylor himself eat human liver, something Taylor denied. One described asking RUF rebels to sever his only hand in exchange for his young son’s life.

Further allegations said teenage children were involved in the fighting and that Taylor sold illegally mined diamonds to finance arms purchases for the RUF. Western celebrities Naomi Campbell, a model, and Mia Farrow, an actress, described an incident at a charity dinner held by Nelson Mandella, then South Africa’s head, in 1997. Campbell and Farrow said Taylor gifted Campbell a number of diamonds. Taylor is claimed to have ordered seizure of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits by RUF soldiers.

It was claimed in court that child soldiers were used in conflict, as diamond mine guards, and to carry out amputations. Allegations of forced amputation were made. Taylor was convicted in late April of aiding and abetting forcing amputation, as well as rape, murder, child soldier recruitment, sexual slavery, and pillaging.

The court’s panel of judges, presided over by Judge Richard Lussick, heard a 30-minute address by Taylor at an earlier sentencing hearing. “I express my sadness and sympathy for crimes suffered by individuals and families in Sierra Leone,” said Taylor, adding he acted “with honour” and as a peacemaker, asking for “reconciliation, not retribution” in sentencing. Taylor also gave evidence at his own trial, spending seven months of testimony saying he strove for peace in the region.

Lussick noted the panel felt 80 years to be excessive given that Taylor was cleared of directly carrying out offences. However, the court found other factors aggravated the case: In particular, he was a head of state. “Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes, not the commission of crimes,” Lussick said in court. “The special status of Mr. Taylor as a head of state puts him in a different category of offenders for the purpose of sentencing,” the judge said, with the convict “in a class of his own”.

“[His] positions both as president of Liberia and within the west African regional bodies distinguish him from any other individual that has appeared before this court,” Prosecutor Brenda Hollis said at a sentencing hearing. “Taylor’s abuse of his authority and influence is especially egregious given that west African leaders repeatedly entrusted him with a role to facilitate peace.” She had claimed “No significant mitigating circumstances exist in this case.”

Lussick also told the court today Taylor stood convicted of “aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history”. “The lives of many more innocent civilians in Sierra Leone were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions.” These were, the court said, crimes of the “utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality”. The prosecution had claimed Taylor followed no more motivation beyond simple greed and power lust. Lussick said today the judges were unanimous in imposing a term of 50 years.

The defence had called for a sentence that gave Taylor a realistic prospect of eventual release. They also noted he is set to be sent to the United Kingdom to serve sentence. The defendant would be “culturally isolated”, facing a “punishment within a punishment”. At least one war crimes convict has been attacked in prison in the UK, and it is anticipated Taylor will end up in a high-security prison after the UK Foreign Office has promised to uphold an agreement to imprison him there made by ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

“The sentence is clearly excessive, clearly disproportionate to his circumstances, his age and his health and does not take into account the fact that he stepped down from office voluntarily,” said counsel for the accused Morris Anya. The prosecution may also appeal the sentencing, and the verdict itself with intent to increase Taylor’s convictions beyond merely aiding and abetting. The defence also intends to appeal the verdict.

The appeals process means Taylor is likely to remain at The Hague for several months, where the court has been holding sessions in nearby Leidschendam. He is the last defendant to face trial before the Special Court, which has previously convicted and sentenced eight other prominent figures in the conflict.



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April 26, 2012

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor was today found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands. Taylor was acquitted of actually ordering the offences or being part of a joint enterprise to conduct them.

A school destroyed by RUF rebels.
Image: Laura Lartigue.

The eleven-count indictment produced a four-year trial that heard allegations of rape, murder, sexual slavery, cannibalism, arms dealing, “blood” diamond trade, and use of child soldiers. Prosecution witnesses totalled 94 whilst the defence had 21 including the accused. Taylor spent his seven months of evidence claiming he was a peacemaker.

The allegations date to civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran from 1991 to 2002. Taylor, who had been a warlord since the ’80s, backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Taylor was elected Liberian president in 1997 after a different civil war concluded.

Six years later he was ousted when an arrest warrant was issued and fled to Nigeria. He was arrested there in 2006 whilst again trying to flee. Taylor, who had been facing a rebellion against him since 1999 in Liberia, had received training from Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Testimony included claims that Taylor-backed fighters adorned roads with human intestines and ate human flesh. One claimed to have seen Taylor himself eat human liver, something Taylor denied. One described asking RUF rebels to sever his only hand in exchange for his young son’s life.

Further allegations said teenage children were involved in the fighting and that Taylor sold illegally mined diamonds to finance arms purchases for the RUF. Western celebrities Naomi Campbell, a model, and Mia Farrow, an actress, described an incident at a charity dinner held by Nelson Mandella, then South Africa’s head, in 1997. Campbell and Farrow said Taylor gifted Campbell a number of diamonds. Taylor is claimed to have ordered seizure of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits by RUF soldiers.

It was claimed in court that child soldiers were used in conflict, as diamond mine guards, and to carry out amputations. Allegations of forced amputation were made.

The court, which has spent a year considering its verdicts, unanimously found Taylor guilty. It ruled Taylor knew at least from 1997 the full extent of RUF activities in Sierra Leone, and that he helped bankroll activities dealing in blood diamonds. A judge said more than a thousand youngsters had ‘RUF’ carved into their skin to prevent escape. From the moment he receives the full judgement Taylor has two weeks in which to file an appeal.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International welcomed the verdict, which is the first conviction of a head of state before an international court since the Nuremburg trials prosecuted Nazi leaders after World War Two. Karl Dönitz was convicted after he took brief control of Germany in the aftermath of Adolf Hitler‘s suicide.

Former President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic faced trial but died before a judgement was handed down. Laurent Gbagbo, once Presldent of the Ivory Coast, is in custody at The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court. Taylor joins eight other Special Court convicts, all of whom are from Sierra Leone. He is the first African ruler to appear in The Hague.

The Special Court was formed jointly by Sierra Leone’s present administration and the United Nations.

The Netherlands agreed the process could be held there on the condition Taylor did not serve sentence there if convicted. He is expected to be sent to the UK, where Foreign Office has promised to uphold an agreement to imprison him there made by ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.



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January 13, 2012

Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

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Friday, January 13, 2012

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This week US citizens observed National Human Trafficking Awareness Day through acts of education, legislation, and enforcement; whilst, around the world, other people highlighted or tackled this global problem in their own countries.

According to an annual report on human trafficking released by the US State Department in June last year, 27 million men, women and children are exploited through human trafficking. Worldwide, at least two million children are estimated to be trafficked victims of the sex trade; and, in military conflicts, it is not uncommon for children to be forced to bear arms. In releasing the report last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing trafficking, and cultural issues associated with it.

Brown, orange and red are source countries, while light blue and dark blue countries are destinations for victims of human trafficking.
Image: KVDP.

Under the United Nations’ Palermo Protocols, human trafficking encompasses cases where victims are born into slavery, forcibly transported for exploitation, consented to work with a trafficker, and/or were forced to participate in criminal activities. The Protocols also recognize the unique status and rights of children.

US-based action

Reports from across the United States show a number of communities taking local action to solve, or otherwise highlight, this global problem.

In Southern California, Sister Caritas Foster is an advocate for the area’s victims of human trafficking. Commenting on the area’s involvement, she stated: “We in the San Francisco Bay Area are one of the largest receiving areas with our borders and coasts”. For over four years, Foster has worked on educating the public on human trafficking, speaking to civic and religious groups and describing the power traffickers hold over their victims through vivid accounts of situations trafficked individuals find themselves in. Many have no idea where they are located, suffer under the constant threat of deportation, and most often lack the language abilities to seek help.

Los Angeles politician Don Knabe said human trafficking was not a distant problem but one that hits close to home. As the county supervisor overseeing the fourth district in Los Angeles County, Knabe cited figures from the Probation Department showing 84 percent of arrests of children on prostitution charges in 2010 were in his district; he believes the overall problem for the county is much larger, and wants the Probation Department to establish a special unit dedicated to sexually exploited minors.

Northward in Seattle, Washington, members of the King County Sheriff’s department realized that law enforcement had to deal supportively with the symptoms of human trafficking — rather than putting victims in jail. This gave birth to the “Genesis Project” where sheriff’s deputies offer potential victims of trafficking a comfortable safe haven with amenities for 24 hours, and put them in touch with social services for counselling, job training, and education advice.

Politicians from several states have sought to address the connection between tourism and human trafficking; Indiana’s state Senate unanimously passed a human trafficking bill on Tuesday morning. Current legislation only considered forced marriage and prostitution as human trafficking; loopholes in the existing laws allowed some forms of human trafficking to escape prosecution. Lawmakers in the state hope to toughen their human trafficking laws, and have new legislation on the statute books in time for the Super Bowl, due to be held in Indianapolis on February 5. The just-passed bill now goes to the House for approval.

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Also on Tuesday, lawmakers from Hawaii held a special hearing on human trafficking. Kathryn Xian, of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says traffickers capitalize on the state’s tourist-based economy. She introduced a package of seven bills she says will help prevent human trafficking in the state.

At a national level, the US government continues to work abroad on the issue of trafficking; Luis CdeBaca, a special ambassador for human trafficking, is working with Myanmar, commonly known as Burma, as the country seeks to improve diplomatic relations with the United States. Myanmar was identified by the US State Department as having one of the worst records of forced labor, and as a country that lacks necessary laws to curb human trafficking.

Trafficking, the global picture

File image of a Nepali mother who travelled to Mumbai, India, hoping to rescue her teenage daughter from an Indian brothel.
Image: Kay Chernush, US State Dept..

Although National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is a US-based effort to recognise, and highlight, this issue — as a topic of global concern being highlighted through the United Nations, others around the world continue efforts to increase public awareness and tackle trafficking.

Forty-six women from the international group Operation Mobilization sought to raise awareness by climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The summit is called “Uhuru Peak”, with Uhuru meaning “freedom” in Swahili. Each of the non-professional climbers raised US$10,000 to help those affected by human trafficking.

In the Middle East, several countries are reported to have problems with human traffickers recruiting unemployed gay Kenyan men to become sex slaves. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supposedly the more-common destination countries into which Kenyans are lured with offers of high-paying jobs. However, in the United Arab Emirates — where no law prohibits trafficking, but homosexuality is illegal — the problem is compounded.

Enforcement of existing laws, and acting against trafficking, are seen as key steps in reducing the activity. Showing that no country is unaffected, Northern Ireland police are currently investigating five sex trafficking cases; and, on Monday, Filipino police rescued fifteen women following a tip-off regarding women recruited, and being held, prior to being sent to work abroad.

In the Northern Ireland situation, Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall stated that fifteen men are to be contacted, suspected of having paid for sex with trafficked women. Identifying victims within the UK, or victims seeking help, is becoming more challenging with the sex industry having switched to using hotel rooms as-opposed to street corners. Many victims of trafficking are found to be unaware of where within the country they are.

In the Philippines situation, Zamboanga City police are still seeking the recruiter of the fifteen women rescued in Rio Hondo.

A range of complexities are involved in the sentencing of both those convicted of human trafficking, and their victims. In one Canadian case, 43-year-old Hungarian Lajos Domotor pled guilty to trafficking men and women into forced labor. Following being charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking, he developed terminal stomach cancer and has been given a 10 to 15 percent chance of living five years.

In the UK, officials are seeking to detect exploitation prior to sentencing — as a counter to the high number of foreign women in jails, frequently having been victims of trafficking. One in seven women prisoners across England and Wales are foreign, with the primary offenses being drug or immigration-related. A report into the issue recommends sentencing decisions should consider the role of women, and of coercion, in such cases.

Artists also have a special role to play in the education and awareness of the public. The first opera about sex trafficking will premiere in Liverpool, England, on March 7. Anya17 was composed by Adam Gorb with a libretto written by Ben Kaye. Performers will come from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic contemporary music ensemble 10/10. Funding for the production was provided in part by the United Nations.

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January 22, 2011

Romanian father, son convicted of sex trafficking, forced prostitution in UK

Romanian father, son convicted of sex trafficking, forced prostitution in UK

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

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A father and son from Romania have been found guilty of a string of prostitution-related offences in the United Kingdom. For four years, Marius “Mario” Nejloveanu and father Bogdan trafficked women into and around the UK, forcing their victims into prostitution. Nejloveanu, 23, was also convicted of a series of rapes and headed the business with guidance from his 51-year-old father.

Five women were lured from Romania, the youngest in her teens, the oldest 27, with promises of work and romance with Marius. Originally founding a brothel in their hometown of Birmingham, the pair met resistance from local rival pimps and relocated the women to Manchester. There, they worked six or seven days each week, sleeping in brothels and having sex with eight-to-ten men each night against their will.

Typical fees from customers were around £40 but some may have paid as low as £10. Around half of each fee went to the Nejloveanus and half to the brothel. Police launched raids, rescuing the women after receiving a tip-off.

Bogdan was accused by Rachel Smyth, prosecuting, of giving advice and assistance to Marius; Smyth opened the trial last year telling Manchester Crown Court “[h]aving heard the evidence you [the jury] may conclude that the son, Marius, learnt this trade from his father and that this was a family business.” The woman were “threatened, beaten and degraded” and faced “extreme sexual violence and humiliation,” the court heard.

Bogdan was convicted of seven offences – three counts of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation, three counts of trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation and controlling prostitution for gain. Marius was found guilty of five counts of trafficking women into the UK for sexual exploitation, one count of conspiracy to traffic a woman into the UK for sexual exploitation, two counts of trafficking women within the UK for sexual exploitation, one count of trafficking a woman out of the UK for sexual exploitation, four counts of rape, five counts of assault, two counts of causing a woman to engage in sexual activity without consent, five counts of controlling prostitution for gain, and one count of witness intimidation to total 27 offences.

The duo join two others who admitted lesser roles in the scheme. Costel Maruntelu, 24, was previously jailed for five years and six months for sex trafficking crimes. Juanita “Toni” Huntingdon, 41, helped set up the Birmingham brothel and acted as a receptionist at both sites and entered guilty pleas to five counts of controlling prostitution for gain. Huntingdon and the Nejloveanus will be sentenced on Wednesday.



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August 19, 2010

Nelson Mandela charity official resigns over \’blood diamonds\’

Nelson Mandela charity official resigns over ‘blood diamonds’

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) trustee Jeremy Ractliffe has resigned from the charity’s board, twelve days after admitting to the possession of “blood diamonds”.

Earlier this month, supermodel Naomi Campbell testified against former Liberian president Charles Taylor when she claimed she received “very small, dirty looking stones” from two men, allegedly associated with Taylor. Campbell said she gave these diamonds to Ractliffe to “do something good with” in 1997. He gave the diamonds to police the day after Campbell’s testimony. The police confirmed the stones were diamonds.

The board of the Mandela charity said in a statement, “Mr. Ractliffe regrets his omission to inform the chairperson, chief executive officer and the rest of the board of trustees of the NMCF of his receipt of the uncut diamonds until now… [Ractliffe] acknowledges that had he done so, he and the board would have found a better and lawful way to manage the situation.”

Ractliffe took the diamonds from Campbell, fearing she might be prosecuted for removing uncut diamonds from South Africa, illegal without a license.

Ractcliffe said, “Naomi suggested they could be of some benefit to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund — but I told her I would not involve the NMCF in anything that could possibly be illegal… In the end I decided I should just keep them.”

Taylor is on trial in The Hague, The Netherlands for allegedly trading diamonds for weapons to supply the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. Taylor faces eleven counts for international crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enlistment of children under the age of fifteen, and pillaging.



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August 11, 2010

Mia Farrow, Carole White testify in Charles Taylor\’s war crimes trial

Mia Farrow, Carole White testify in Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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Farrow appeared in a UN-backed court at The Hague to testify in a war crimes trial against Taylor.
Image: hdptcar on Flickr.

Actress Mia Farrow and Carole White have testified in former-Liberian president Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Farrow and White’s testimonies contradict supermodel Naomi Campbell‘s testimony from last week.

White said Campbell was “mildly flirtatious” with Taylor at a dinner in South Africa in 1997. Taylor, she alleged, told Campbell he would send her diamonds. White continued to say Campbell communicated with Taylor and awaited the diamond. Campbell was “very excited” about the diamonds according to White.

“[Taylor’s men] came in and they sat down in the lounge and we sat opposite them… they then took out a quite scruffy paper and they handed it to Miss Campbell and said ‘these are the diamonds.'”

Farrow claimed Campbell told her Taylor received diamonds in the middle of the night. She testified, “[Campbell] said that in the night she had been awakened, some men were knocking at the door, and they had been sent by Charles Taylor, and they had given her a huge diamond.”

Last week in Campbell’s testimony, she did not know who sent her diamonds, but testified her then-agent White told her who probably sent the diamonds. White and Farrow testified Campbell said the diamonds were from Taylor. She claims she gave the diamonds to Jeremy Ractliffe who gave them to police.

Police spokesperson Musa Zondi confirms Ractliffe had uncut diamonds. “Yes, they are real diamonds. We cannot tell whether they are ‘blood diamonds‘ or not. That will be part of the investigation,” Zondi said.

Taylor faces eleven counts for violating international law including, murder, rape, sexual slavery, enlistment of children under the age of fifteen, pillaging, enslavement, and “outrages upon personal dignity.”

Taylor allegedly traded “blood diamonds” for weapons and supplying the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone with weapons during the civil war from 1991 to 2002. This war conscripted child soldiers, an international crime. The prosecutors for the Special Court say Taylor trained the rebels and had them rape, murder, mutilate, and decapitate the civilians of Sierra Leone. Over 100,000 people died in the Sierra Leonean civil war. Taylor plead not guilty to all charges.

Linking the blood diamonds, used to support the RUF, to Taylor is a high priority for the prosecution.



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  • “Campbell testifies against former Liberian president” — Wikinews, August 5, 2010

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June 8, 2010

Human trafficking trial starts in Clearwater, Florida

Human trafficking trial starts in Clearwater, Florida

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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Initial composition of jury members in a human trafficking criminal trial began Tuesday in Clearwater, Florida, United States. WTVT-TV reported this may be the first such case in the Tampa Bay Area.

Pinellas County Courthouse, in Clearwater, Florida

An individual named Colin Anthony Dyer was placed under arrest in May 2009. Dyer, 37, faces charges in the case including human trafficking and sexual battery. Accusations against Dyer include human trafficking on one woman, and both sexual battery and human trafficking on another young woman.

Law enforcement officials stated Dyer along with three other individuals restrained women without their permission in a residence in Treasure Island, Florida. According to statements by those investigating the case, Dyer and his associates made these women work as prostitutes.

Other individuals that were arrested related to the case included Kenyatta Cornelius, Edward Jones, and Corinna Shaffer. The case involving Dyer is the first of these people to be heard in court at trial.

Law enforcement officials have said that Dyer raped a woman and made her work in the capacity of a prostitute at a strip club called “Vegas Showgirls”, located near St. Petersburg, Florida.

Prior to admitting possible jury members into the courtroom, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Timothy Peters asked lawyers if a plea bargain deal had been made between the parties. Bryant Camareno, lawyer for Dyer, stated his client did not wish to plead guilty. Lawyers for the government did not give Dyer a formal plea bargain deal offer. Judge Peters queried Dyer regarding his understanding that he could be sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in jail, and Dyer answered in the affirmative.

Police detectives have stated that this might be the first case in Florida dealing with the human trafficking of citizens of the United States.



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