Jail terms halved for massage parlor enslavers in southern Vietnam

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An appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday almost halved the jail terms of six people convicted of holding masseuses in captivity and extorting money from them.

According to the board of judges from the People's Supreme Court, 38-year-old Phan Cao Tri, a massage parlor owner, and his accomplices had their sentences decreased because only one woman was identified to be victimized by them, Tuoi Tre reported.

The first trial in January handed down the verdict saying that 93 female staffers were kept in captivity at Tri's massage parlors in HCMC and the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai

The number of women who were asked to compensate their employers to escape from parlors was also decreased from nine to eight at the second hearing, the newspaper said.

In fact, during the appeal hearing, which opened on August 4, most of the victims changed their testimonies, saying that Tri and his accomplices didn't beat them, capture them and force them to meet customers' demands for sexual favors as concluded by the first trial.

They also said that they were paid between VND10 million to 15 million (US$476-714) per month, depending on the amount of customers, adding that they were given free health checkups and annual travel tours as well.

Under the latest verdict, Tri's sentence was cut down from 12 years to five years, while his wife, Phan Thi Yen, received a five-year-suspended sentence as compared to the previous jail term of six years.

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Tri's brother-in-law, Phan Viet Hau, also had his sentence decreased from 10 years to four and half years.

Meanwhile, the jail terms of two parlor deputy managers, Nguyen Minh Phuong and Nguyen Hoai Nhanh, were cut from three years to one and half years, and two years to one year, respectively, Tuoi Tre reported.

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