Life term sought for Indian American couple in slavery case

April 9th, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 9 (IANS) US prosecutors have recommended maximum sentence for the multi-millionaire Indian American couple convicted of “modern day slavery”, asking for between 30 years and life imprisonment for the main accused Varsha Sabhnani. For Varsha’s India-born husband Mahender, a perfume manufacturer and distributor, a prison term of 12-15 years is sought.

After a six-week trial, the Sabhnanis were convicted in December by a jury of forced labour, harbouring illegal immigrants and debt servitude in a case that involved the brutalising of two Indonesian women they had kept as domestic help in their home in Long Island.

The allegations against the couple included forcing the maids, identified only as Samirah and Enung, to work over 18 hours a day and beatings with brooms and umbrellas.

Varsha is scheduled to be sentenced May 30 and Mahender June 6.

The Sabhnanis’ attorneys consider the sentence too harsh and are expected to file their recommendation.

The case had received wide publicity in the US as well as abroad because prosecutors called it a rare instance of modern-day slavery.

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