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General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Source: GNA

Three Chinese jailed for human trafficking

Accra, June 23, GNA - A Circuit Court in Accra on Monday found three Chinese who were busted for transporting and trafficking 10 Chinese girls to engage in the sex trade in Ghana, guilty and handed down various jail terms on them.

James Xu Jin, 41, who is believed to be the ring leader and night club operator, was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment, San Shan Ying, a housewife and Chou Xiu Ying, a night club operator, had 12 years each. They were facing charges of conspiracy and human trafficking. Ying was additionally charged with abetment of crime.

The court presided over by Mrs. Elizabeth Ankomah revoked the resident permit for James and ordered that all the money found on the accused persons be paid into the Human Trafficking Fund.

The court, however, ordered that the money retrieved from the victims should be returned to them.

The convicts after serving the sentences are to be deported to China. During the four-month trial the prosecution called 10 witnesses to make its case, while the defence called one witness.

Summing up its judgment, the court noted that the prosecution had been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. It held that James and Sam engaged in human trafficking by obtaining tickets and other travelling documents for the victims and through deceits, lured them to Ghana to work in a restaurant, which never existed.

According to the court the victims on their arrival had their passports and other travelling documents confiscated by James who in turn threatened, deceived and exploited their vulnerability. According to the court proceeds of the sex trade were used to purchase contraceptives, douches and other materials to facilitate their trade. It dismissed claims by the convicts that the victims and other Chinese nationals meet at the restaurants to sing. "During the singing that was when the men selected the victims for sex," the court noted.

It therefore concluded that the convicts through their intentions induced the victims into sex trade and declined to give them their travelling documents as well as proceed from the sex trade. The court wondered how James who never operated the restaurant, slept during the day and turned up in the casinos could purchase a vehicle within a short period.

"James never operated a restaurant in the country rather a brothel. Even the said restaurant named James Golden Gate Restaurant was to be located on the Accra Winneba Road and not La in Accra," the court observed.

The court said James designed the living room of the house to look like that of a restaurant and stocked a refrigerator with drinks and had two separate rooms used for the sex trade.

It noted that James misrepresented to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) that his house located in La, was being used as a Restaurant.

According to the court James could not provide even books (Menu Chart) to show that it was a restaurant. It pointed out that even at the GIPC, San claimed to be James wife but she was not.

Citing witnesses' evidence to buttress its point, the court noted the convicts and victims, who contended that they operated a restaurant, were rather seen by neighbours with food in take away packs. In the case of Chou, the court established that he abetted the crime, since he acted as an interpreter. He sat at the entrance of the two rooms, which served as the brothel and sometimes took money on James' behalf.

Mr D.O. K. Johnson who represented the accused in his prayer for mitigation contended they were law abiding citizens and first offenders who should be given the minimum sentence. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mary Agbozo, the prosecutor, had said the Police had information that some Chinese nationals had trafficked a number of Chinese ladies to Ghana for sexual exploitation.

Consequently, on February 14, a group of Police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department led other police personnel to the house of the three accused persons at La in Accra. The prosecution said when the police went to the house they rescued seven of the victims, adding that, the whereabouts of three of them were unknown.

A search conducted in the house revealed condoms, contraceptives, a wooden carved male organ and other medications and various sums of money, some of which belonged to the victims. The Police impounded a Toyota saloon car, with registration number GE 9314 W believed to have been used in transporting the victims for the sex trade.

ASP Agbozo said investigations revealed that James and San Shan, a couple, transported the victims from China while Chou sent the victims to their respective clients. The prosecution said one of the victims, Tin Tin, who could speak English, told them that James and San Shan brought them to Ghana and were paid 150 dollars on their return from their rounds.

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