Human Trafficking Case Adjourned

Four men charged in the alleged human trafficking of 102 Bangladesh nationals had their case adjourned because a lawyer needed the assistance of a translator.

Legal counsel Brian Livo of the Public Solicitor’s office who is representing two of them said one of his clients can’t speak English therefore they could not receive proper instructions before the plea.

Mr Livo is appearing on behalf of Anowar Hossain and Palas Hosan.

Nigel Morison who is representing Sekdar Somon and his wife Buxoo Nabilah Bibi of Mr Price had made it clear that his two clients will plead not guilty to all charges they are facing.

He said his clients are fluent in English and any further adjournment will be inappropriate, therefore asked the court to file a bail application this week.

The four Bangladesh nationals are facing up to 367 counts of human trafficking, slavery, money laundering, intentional assault, treats to kill and employing non-citizen on hard labour.

Public Prosecutor Josaia Naigulevu said all the defendants are from Bangladesh and he has no issue adjourning the case for the sake of the defendants in the case who required a translator.

He agreed with a translator whom the defense is already using to facilitate the communication while on remand.

Mr Livo has indicated that he will file a bail application for his two clients this week.

Mr Naigulevu responded that the defense has liberty to file bail for their clients but reminded that it is not the first time they have filed for bail.

He said the state has 102 victims in the case but they may not call all of them.

The allegations surrounding the case revealed that between September 21, 2018 and November 2018 the defendants allegedly brought in their countrymen illegally to find jobs in Vanuatu.

Complaints were later filed within the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and the defendants were arrested and remanded awaiting trial in court.

Prosecution claimed that 102 people have been allegedly illegally brought to Vanuatu by the defendants and their cases will be re-listed before the Supreme Court for plea in the next plea date.

Daily Post was informed earlier that the couple are from Bangladesh but the husband has a Zimbabwean passport while his wife is using a Mauritius Passport.

They were denied bail last year amidst concerns the couple may have other passports in their possession that made them a possible flight risk as they are originally from one country, but evidence indicated they are using passports from different countries.

Court will resume to hear their bail tomorrow.

The victims of the case were placed in various locations in Mr. Price properties in Port Vila.

It was alleged the defendants allegedly arranged and facilitated their entry in Vanuatu using deception, denial of their freedom of movement, coercion or threat of violence exploited and placed them in servitude.

Reports claimed the victims allegedly subjected them to slavery by engaging them in work under oppressive terms and conditions, under menace of penalty and without freedom to leave at any time.

There were allegations these workers were promised good money for jobs in Vanuatu but they have to pay them some money in return for the offer.

The sources said that victims have paid sufficient money to the defendants in order to get well paid job in Vanuatu.

The defendants were alleged to have directly and indirectly made arrangements that involved property that they knew or ought to have known to be proceeds of crime when they procured those amounts from the victims.

This is not the first time that Mr Price Asian Junction has been in the spotlight in Vanuatu as in June 2018, 21 work permits were revoked for workers brought in from overseas by the company.

Prosecutor Naigulevu told Daily Post earlier that this may be the biggest case of human trafficking ever recorded in the region.

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