A Belgian court on Friday convicted eight Emirati princesses of human trafficking and their mistreatment of servants at a luxury hotel in Brussels almost 10 years ago. The princesses were handed out 15-month suspended jail terms and also fined for trafficking and mistreating servants at the hotel, their lawyer said.
The case against Princess Sheikha al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi's ruling al-Nahyan family and her seven daughters was filed in 2008 when one of the servants managed to escape the hotel in Brussels and complained about degrading treatment to the local police. The princesses had booked an entire floor at the Conrad Hotel in Brussels for several months in 2007 and 2008.
They were convicted on Friday and handed out suspended jail terms and a fine of €165,000 for trafficking and inhuman treatment. Defence lawyer Stephen Monod told RT that the word "trafficking," used in the verdict, did not have anything to do with "smuggling illegal labour into a country." It referred "to employing labour in unworthy conditions."
Monod expressed his satisfaction at the case being finally resolved, Reuters reported. "Belgian justice has appropriately assessed this case, which has generated many misconceptions," Monod said in a statement.
However, all the eight princesses were acquitted of charges of inhuman treatment because they were not the actual employers of the servants, RT reported citing De Morgen newspaper. The eight women never appeared in court during the trial.
The princesses had brought 23 servants, who were of eight different nationalities, with them. They "were not paid" and "worked day and night and had to sleep on the floor," RT reported citing the Tribune de Geneve paper. The servants were not allowed to leave the hotel and were also "shouted at and abused" by the UAE royals.