6 face charges in women slavery at Vietnam massage parlors

Thanh Nien News

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Phan Cao Tri (R) and one of his subordinates at a trial in 2011 when he was sentenced for enslaving tens of women at his illicit massage parlors in HCMC / PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS
Six people who allegedly enslaved dozens of women in illicit massage parlors in Ho Chi Minh City are facing fresh charges, after their trials’ verdicts were annulled last year for being too lenient.
The city police have proposed that local prosecutors charge Phan Cao Tri, 41, owner of the parlors, and his accomplices, including wife Phan Thi Yen, 35, with “illegally detaining people” and “extorting people’s properties.”
According to police’s findings, Tri and Yen founded a chain of massage parlors across the city and recruited women for the position of masseuses.
They signed labor contracts with terms regarding working time and policies in accordance with laws, but once employed, the women were forced to give sexual massage to customers from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Police said the women were banned from leaving their parlors and had to stay at Tri’s home after work.
They were watched by about 10 security guards and forced to buy necessities like clothes and foods from Tri’s subordinates at high prices.
The other four suspects were managers at Tri’s massage parlors, who assisted him in managing the masseuses, sending thugs to arrest them when they attempted to run away, and punishing them by fining them VND500,000-1 million (US$23.54-47), forcing them to clean restrooms, or beating, caging and starving them.
The couple also forced employees who wanted to take leave or quit the job to “deposit” VND15 million ($706).
Police said they had taken at least VND170 million ($8,000) from nine people who paid them to leave the job.
On December 6, 2008, being tipped off by some masseuses who managed to escaped, police busted Tan Hoang Phat, Tri’s main parlor, and rescued 66 enslaved women.
At the first trial in January 2011, HCMC People’s Court sentenced Tri to 12 years in prison, and others 2-10 years for charges of “illegally detaining people” and “extorting people’s properties.”
An appeal in December that year, however, reduced Tri’s sentence to five years, others to between one and half year and four and half years.
But, a board of judges at the Supreme People’s Court last year annulled both the verdicts, saying that it was a serious mistake to punish the defendants’ criminal acts with such light sentences. They also ordered a fresh investigation into the case.

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