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 credit: VnExpress
Prosecutors in Ho Chi Minh City have brought charges against six people for enslaving 73 women at a local chain of illicit massage parlors, news website VnExpress reported Friday.
Phan Cao Tri, 41, the chain’s owner, and his accomplices were charged with “illegally detaining people” and “extorting people’s properties.”
The prosecutors have asked for between 3 years and 10 years in prison for each of the charges for Tri and his accomplices, including wife Phan Thi Yen and four managers at his parlors.
In January 2011, a court in Ho Chi Minh City convicted Tri and his gang of the same charges and sentenced him to 12 years in prison and the other 2 to 10 years.
An appeal court later that year, however, reduced Tri’s sentence to five years, others to between one and half year and four and half years.
The Supreme Court last year issued a re-hearing decision that annulled both previous verdicts due to "serious violations of procedure" and ordered that investigation be started afresh.
According to the latest indictment, Tri and Yen founded the chain of massage parlors across the city and recruited women, most of whom hailed from poor families in the Mekong Delta, to work as masseuses.
They signed labor contracts with terms regarding working time and policies in accordance with laws, but once employed, the women were forced to work from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day.
The masseuses were also forced to give sexual massage to customers, and if requested by customers, they had to have sex with them.
Prosecutors said the women were not paid and had to live on customers’ tips.
They were banned from leaving their parlors and had to stay at Tri’s home after work. They were watched by security guards and forced to buy necessities like clothes and foods at high prices from Tri’s subordinates.
Those who were found violating the rules or were complained by clients would have their salaries deducted, be beaten or even caged.
Prosecutors said those who had unwanted pregnancy would be beaten before being forced to have abortion.
Every year the masseuses were allowed to take leaves twice, but had to pay VND15 million (US$706) in “deposit” before leaving. They were also asked to pay the same amount if they wanted to quit the job.
Tri and his accomplices were accused of having taken at least VND170 million ($8,000) from nine women who paid them to leave the job.
The rest were rescued by police who busted Tan Hoang Phat, Tri’s main parlor on December 6, 2008.
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