By THE NATION
The court read its verdict in the human trafficking case against Michael Pearl, 46, a Sudan-born Australian, Ghassan Wakej, a Syrian, 37, Chalad Narachan, 63, Aree Iamsaree, 46, and Hana Taoyuree (unofficial spelling), 38, a Moroccan, at 9.30am.
They were charged with violating the anti-human trafficking act, prostitution suppression act and the Criminal Code.
Pearl was accused of being the gang leader as he owns the Dream Disco Pub on the fourth floor of the Zenith Hotel where the four victims were forced into prostitution from October 2016 to March 2017.
Taoyuree was charged with luring and smuggling the four fellow Moroccan women into Bangkok via Laos by promising them job as waitresses, but they instead ended up being forced into prostitution.
The two Thai men and the Syrian were charged with detaining and assaulting the four victims to force them into prostitution.
After the four victims were rescued, two left the Kingdom to return to Morocco, while the two others remained as state witnesses.
The five defendants were released on bail by posting a Bt300,000 cash guarantee. They came to hear the verdict on Wednesday morning.
The court ruled that the five lacked strong evidence to dispute the charges against them and relied on their own accounts, while the public prosecutors had strong evidence and accounts from the victims.
The court found each of the five defendants breached two counts of the Criminal Code and were given two years term for each count, or four years.
Each of the five defendants were also given six years in prison for breaching each of two counts of the anti-human trafficking act, or 12 years.
Since the Australian owned the pub, he was also convicted of violating the prostitution suppression act by soliciting others for sex services. He was given an additional three years for this conviction.
Pearl was given a total of 19 years in jail, while the others got 16 years.