US woman convicted of forcing Lankan to work without pay for 9 years

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A New Jersey woman was convicted Thursday on charges of forcing a Sri Lankan woman to work without pay for nine years, causing her to overstay her visa and marrying her in an attempt to keep her in the country.

A jury found the defendant, Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, 43, guilty on charges of forced labour, alien harbouring for financial gain and marriage fraud. The jury had deliberated for two hours after a six-day trial before Judge Robert B. Kugler of the United States District Court in Camden.

Prosecutors did not name the victim, who they said took care of the woman’s children and cleaned her house, and was largely hidden from the outside world. They said she came to the United States on a temporary visa in 2009.

“The defendant, in this case, treated the victim as a slave,” United States Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement from the Justice Department. “Al-Hunaity kept the victim in this country illegally and hid her away, in order to force her to perform household work for Al-Hunaity without pay, privacy, or the ability to move about freely.”