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Friday, May 14, 2021

US judge orders Qatari-Emirati couple’s immediate deportation

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A Qatari military officer and his Emirati wife have been ordered to immediately leave the US by a judge following claims they had treated two domestic staff as “slaves.”

The couple had been arrested and charged with “engaging in forced labor” in June last year for withholding the wages and passports of two domestic employees, as well as beating one with a stick when she dug through trash in search of food.

In December, Hassan Al Homoud, 46, who had been undergoing military training at Camp Bullis in San Antonio, Texas, pled guilty to visa fraud as part of a plea bargain.

His wife Zainab al-Hosani, 39, had pled guilty to knowing that a felony was taking place but failing to report it.

During sentencing yesterday, District Judge Orlando Garcia said he had hoped to hand down a harsher sentence than deportation in the case, since engaging in forced labor is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Reuters reported.

However, the two domestic staff who were from Indonesia and Bangladesh, had refused to testify, and so a deal was struck.

Sentencing them, Garcia said the couple would be immediately removed from the country and never allowed back.

They were also ordered to pay $60,000 (around QR218,500) to each of their victims.

Living conditions

The two women had been found living in a “virtually empty” apartment with minimal toiletries and no toilet paper, linens, utensils, clothes, television, reading material or communication devices. The women also did not have keys to the apartment.

They said they barely ate because access to the bathrooms was limited or forbidden, that they were beaten and had never been paid during their time working for the family.

The judge had previously expressed dismay at the amount of compensation, arguing it was too low:

“$120,000? Are you kidding me?” the judge was quoted by the San Antonio Express-News as saying in October. “That should be higher, much higher. I am so offended by that amount … You’d be giving the defendants almost a complete pass.”

In a statement read in court, Al Homoud said he took full responsibility for his actions. “My conduct has brought shame upon myself, my lovely wife, upon my family and upon my country,” Reuters reported him as saying.

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