Five men were sentenced to five years in prison each in Reykjanes District Court yesterday for attempting to force a 19-year-old woman into prostitution. This is the first human trafficking conviction in Iceland.
All of the convicts and their victim come from Lithuania. The woman had been forced into prostitution in her home country before she was sent to Iceland. She broke down during the flight and was subsequently taken into police care, visir.is reports.
The woman has been in hiding while the suspects were held in custody for the past months; it was believed that they might harm her if they got out.
The convicts maintain their innocence and have all appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. An Icelandic citizen who was also on trial for human trafficking was found not guilty, Morgunbladid reports.
The six men who are accused of attempting to force a 19-year-old Lithuanian woman into prostitution all maintained their innocence when a case against them opened at Reykjanes District Court in southwest Iceland yesterday.
The judge agreed to a request that the courtroom be closed due to safety and privacy reasons. The woman has been under constant police protection, even while all of the accused were in custody, Morgunbladid reports.
This case has raised considerable attention in the media and among the public and it was considered important that the woman’s privacy be respected by barring people from entering the court room.
The lawyers representing the defendants objected to judge’s decision and they have three days to report it to the Supreme Court.
This case began in October last year when the woman arrived in the country. She was in an emotional state on the airplane, and upon arrival she was taken, nearly unconscious, to the Sudurnes healthcare center.
Later she was taken to the Sudurnes police station at her own request.
Police noticed that three known criminals were looking for the woman outside the healthcare center and the police station.
The woman was relocated to a social apartment in Reykjanesbaer from where she disappeared. Police requested media assistance in finding the woman and a few days later she was found unharmed.
This case is extensive and has led to house searches in a number of companies and apartments. The suspects are believed to have committed various crimes and to be involved with organized crime on an international scale.
There has only been one other human trafficking court case in Iceland; in December a woman was acquitted of charges of human trafficking but found guilty of drug smuggling and managing prostitution.
However, shortly afterwards the woman was arrested again on suspicion of being involved in human trafficking.