Wed, 09 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Indonesian jailed U.S. for slavery

Agence France-Presse, Los Angeles, California

An Indonesian woman was jailed for nearly four years on Monday for forcing a maid from her home country into virtual slavery in the United States.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder put Mariska Trisanti behind bars for 46 months and warned that she could face deportation upon her release after she admitted a year ago to holding a young woman in involuntary servitude.

As U.S. authorities crack down on human trafficking, Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights, Alexander Acosta, said that holding a person in involuntary servitude was "morally reprehensible."

"The Justice Department is committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who perpetrate this ancient evil," he said.

Trisanti brought the victim to Los Angeles on a tourist visa in 1997 to work for her as a nanny and housekeeper for two years, federal prosecutors said.

But after the woman arrived, Trisanti confiscated her passport, used threats and physical abuse to force her to work 17 hours a day, seven days a week and eventually stopped paying her during her three-year ordeal.

In order to control her servant, the abusive employer told the woman, who was not identified, that if the she tried to escape, she would be arrested and put in jail.

The terrified maid finally escaped in 2000, along with another woman, when Tresanti was away on a trip to Indonesia.

Tresanti could have faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and US$250,000 fine. Trisanti's husband, Herri Nasution, was sentenced last year to three years of probation.