Brussels, July 27: Eight Princesses from the United Arab Emirates have been convicted in Belgium after they were found guilty of human trafficking and degrading treatment of their servants. However, they were acquited of the more serious charge of inhumane treatment. Earlier, the princesses were given a 15-month suspended jail term and ordered to pay a £145,000 each, half the sum is suspended.
Notably, the case against Princess Sheikha al-Nahyan and her seven daughters was first brought forward in 2008 after the police raided a five-star hotel where the now 64-year-old Princess Sheikha was staying. The family had rented the entire 4th floor for a few months where they forced servants to work around the clock without pay, made them sleep on the floor and were forbidden from leaving the hotel.
A lawyer for the Princesses Stephen Monod clarified saying that the word “trafficking” which was used in the verdict against the princesses did not relate to the trafficking of illegal labour but rather the employment of people in bad conditions. The princesses lawyer, Stephen Monod, said he was happy “Belgian justice has appropriately assessed this case, which has generated many misconceptions”
Princess Sheikha al-Nahyan and her daughters did not attend the trial in person and denied all charges. However, they may still appeal the decision and would not confirm whether or not his clients would pay the fine.
Sheikha Hamda al-Nahyan of one of the United Arab Emirate’s ruling families and seven of her daughters in the year 2008 booked the entire 4th floor of the five-star hotel for a few months where they forced servants to work around the clock without pay, made them sleep on the floor and were forbidden from leaving the hotel.
However, a servant escaped from the hotel and complained to Belgium police after which the local police raided in the hotel and the princesses were caught red handed. Since then the case is being investigated and the matter is in court. The trial has been held up for nine years due to legal challenges to proceedings by the defence. During the trial, the defence blamed the Belgian police for violating the rights of their clients by searching their hotel rooms and called into question the credibility of the witness testimonies.