Three members of a family charged in what’s been called Norway’s most extensive human trafficking case ever were sentenced to jail terms on Thursday that are even longer than what prosecutors sought. The jail terms of up to five-and-a-half years were interpreted as a sign of how severely the court in Drammen viewed the case.
The defendants include a 64-year-old man, his 37-year-old daughter and her 35-year-old ex-husband. State broadcaster NRK reported they were indicted on charges of bringing workers from India to Norway to work in two gardening businesses in Buskerud County. Police charged them with exploiting workers who were in a vulnerable situation and also subjecting them to forced labour during a period from 2008 to 2011.
According to the indictment, the migrants from India worked 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for less than NOK 10 (USD 1.66 according to currency exchange rates at the time). They were paid around NOK 18,000 when they traveled back to India after six months in Norway.
Nearly 100 witnesses testified during the trial about conditions at the gardening firms from 2008 to 2012. The defendants were also charged with swindling Norway’s social welfare agency NAV and for tax evasion.
The 64-year-old was sentenced to five years and six months in prison, his daughter to four years and six months and her ex-husband to three years and six months. The father and daughter filed immediate appeals, while the 37-year-old said he would consider an appeal.