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09.03.2009 Social News

Chinese sex traders fear for their lives… As they appear in court as witnesses

By Ivy Benson - Ghanaian Chronicle

AS an Accra Circuit Court begins to collate concrete evidence on an alleged Chinese human trafficking and sex trade ring, which was busted in the capital, Accra, by police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), there was fear on the faces of some of the victims who appeared before the court as witnesses.

The claimed they feared being victimised or killed by the families of the accused mafia group back in China, where they were allegedly trafficked from.

On Saturday, March 7, the court, presided over by Mrs. Elizabeth Ankomah, accepted factual evidence as part of the trial of three Chinese, James Xu Jin, 41, who is believed to be the ring leader, Sam Shan Ying, wife of the ring leader, and Chou Xiu Ying, brother to the ring leader facing charges of conspiracy and human trafficking.

The Prosecutor, ASP Mary Agbozo, in the course of the trial, while leading one of the victims, who was visibly frightened and traumatized, in evidence, poured out a bag-full of sex-induced items collected from their residence at La, Agyemang, a suburb of Accra to the amazement of all present.

As the sobbing witness surfed through the collection of the items including condoms, contraceptives, wooden carved male organs and other medications, she then pulled out some of the items she used, claiming that the 1st accused person, James Xu Jin, bought the items for them.

She told the court that the victims sometimes bought the items themselves, as they used these items to prevent pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Advancing her evidence before the court, as she was assured by the court of absolute protection, the witness pleaded that she and her colleagues be sent back to China, as they could not continue with the inhuman treatment they were made to endure.

Giving a chilling account of what she and the other victims had to endure at the hands of the accused persons, the-18-year-old victim, who hails from Harbien in China, indicated that she came into the country in December 2007, through the help of the 1st and 2nd accused persons, who promised her a job at a restaurant they would be establishing.

According to witness, who indicated that as a result of poverty she had to take up a job to be able to sustain her family, found it appealing when James and his wife informed her, as well as her parents, of employing her to work in a restaurant they had established in Ghana.

Witness noted that she had to drop out of school to enable her take up the job promised by the accused persons, adding that a passport and travel ticket was readily made available by the accused person, and in no time, the journey was made to Ghana for the promised job.

Witness, who noted that 2nd accused person was a neighbour in Harbien, as she had known her since infancy, told the court that she arrived in the country in the company of the accused persons and some other victims.

On their arrival in the country, witness indicated that she and the other girls, who lived with 1st accused in his residence called the Peach Blossom Palace brothel, located at La-Agyemang, were sent around casinos, but were not told what to do, but just to gamble.

Witness further noted that James introduced her to one man, and asked that “I have sex with him but I refused.”

As she advanced, witness started crying, noted that her refusal to have sex with the man earned some beatings from James and his wife, adding that on another occasion a Lebanese man was introduced again.

This man, according to the victim, forced her to have sex with him, and later paid the 1st accused some money, which was never given to her.

Witness noted that she owed the accused person a lot of money, and had to pay all those debts before she could have any money from the sex trade.

Witness also told the court the there were two rooms available in the house for the sexual act with men who patronised their services, stressing that $70 was paid for a night, and $40 for an hour for the sex services rendered to clients, who are white-coloured.

Witness also indicated that immediately they got to the country their passports and ticket were taken back by James, making it impossible for them to go back to China on their own.

On their frequent presence at casinos, witness noted that James sent her and her colleagues there to loiter around, in order to catch the glimpse of any white man present, who then takes them to a hotel for sexual sessions, upon payment to the 1st accused person.

Witness told the court that she was forced into rendering the sexual service, since her failure to act accordingly, would lead to her paying some monies to the 1st accused person, which she could not bear.

After spending some ten months in Ghana, witness noted that 2nd accused sent her to China, upon which 1st accused gave her $3,000 and promised to establish the restaurant on her return to Ghana, since she could speak some English, and would not have to engage in the sex trade again.

Witness said she arrived in the country the second time, hoping to work in the restaurant promised her by 1st accused person, but was told that since Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo could not win the presidential election, the restaurant could not be established, so she had to return to the sex trade again.

Witness told the court that since she was not comfortable with the activity, she always plead with her clients, who are mostly Lebanese, Indians and Chinese, to help her go back to China, adding that she services between one to three men a day.

In cross-examination from Mr. B. O. K. Johnson, counsel for the accused persons, witness noted that she had been able to get in-touch with her parents back in China, through a telephone call.

Witness indicated that she made the money for the call through tips received after rendering sexual services to her clients, adding that she had made several attempts to report the 1st accused to the police, but if she did so, the accused person would pursue her.

Another victim, aged 36 years, corroborated the evidence given by her colleague, noting that the accused persons had deceived them, since the work in a restaurant promised them was totally non-existent.

Earlier on the ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, whose ingenuity led to the exposure to of the alleged sex trade, appeared before the court and gave an account of his investigative skills that brought the sex trade activity into the spotlight.

According to the journalist, his actions were motivated by his interest in saving humanity.

In a cross-examination from counsel for the accused persons, witness indicated that his friendship with the house girl at the residence of the accused persons was not amorous, as he went as an undercover journalist to get his information to prove his case.

According to the witness, he entered all the rooms in the house, where he was disguised as a bar attendant, but denied suggestions from counsel that the house girl smuggled him in.

“I was smuggled into the room by a source,” witness emphasised, noting that he found condoms in all the rooms in the house, and picked one used condom from the 1st room.

As witness was made to identify from which room he took the used condom in a photograph presented, the ace investigative journalist noted, “I cannot see from which angle you took the picture.”

The photograph being sought by counsel to be tendered in evidence was then strongly objected to by the prosecution, who noted that the photograph was not identified by the witness.

Prosecution further noted that there was no indication as to when the picture was taken, however, the court accepted it into evidence for “what it is worth.”

Witness denied a suggestion made by counsel for the accused persons, that the used condom, he claimed to have taken from one of the rooms in the house, was indeed his condom.

Witness told the court that the house girl identified her boyfriend to him, and never indicated 3rd accused, the brother of the 1st accused person.

Witness intimated to the court that the house help's boyfriend was his friend, with whom he had constant communication, as he was informed by the house help that the 3rd accused person had been making advances to her, which she had always rejected.

He told the court that 3rd accused person brought him and his team two girls, who had the intention of having sex and taking money for the service, however, his source did not have sex with the girls, but made payments alright.

Witness noted that this activity went on for some time, as he monitored the actions and behaviours of the victims, further noticing that the girls never had sex with black people, no matter how rich that person was.

“In the second instance, a similar case took place where the 3rd accused brought a girl to a place where I was a bar attendant, and handed the girl to my source,” witness intimated noting that after a long conversation the 3rd accused took $150 for “short time,” handed over the lady and left afterwards.

Witness pointed out that he operated in the house, as well as a bar, to get all the information he needed, noting that his monitoring at the La Palm Casino, also indicated that the girls plied their sex trade activities at casinos.

According to the witness, he had monitored the girls, being sent out to casinos, and seen men also coming out from their residence, adding that his source had also been having conversations with the victims, in respect of their activities in the country.

The witness, in the course of giving evidence before the court, produce video footages of sexual sessions of the victims and their clients, collection of payments by 3rd accused of services rendered by the girls, audio speeches and discussions.

Witness, who conducted his investigation over the last seven months, launched into action after receiving credible information that prostitution was taking place in the house.

He noted that he befriended the house help and won his trust, after which he successfully had what he set out to get. Sitting was adjourned to today.

The accused person, who allegedly conspired and trafficked 10 Chinese girls to engage in the sex trade in the country pleaded not guilty to the charge, and they had since been in police custody.

Meanwhile, the Police are hunting for three of the victims, whose whereabouts are unknown.