A court in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday sentenced Phan Cao Tri, a massage parlor owner, to 12 years in prison for holding his masseuses in captivity and extorting money from them.
The court also handed down the jail terms of between two and ten years to another five people on the same charges, including Tri's wife and brother-in-law.
According to the court, while Tri and his accomplices didn't admit to their wrongdoing, testimonies of 94 massueses and 12 managers at his massage parlors in the city and the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai showed that the gang had forced them into offering sexual services to customers.
The female staff signed contracts with Tri, but were not paid and mainly lived on customers' tips.
They were also forced to work from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. without taking leave, and to meet all demands of customers, including sexual favors, according to the hearing.
Those who refused the demands were punished with fines and/or physical beatings.
The masseuses weren't allowed to go out of the parlors and were constantly watched by many security guards. After some women raised the alarm in December 2008, the police rescued 66 women.
The women told the police that to escape from the parlors, they were asked to pay compensations to Tri.
Prosecutors said Tri and his accomplices had extorted a total of VND169 million (US$8,667) from nine women who had paid compensations to quit their job.
They noted that there were still more women who had quit and left the city that they couldn't track down.