Human trafficking in an Asian restaurant in Eghezée: a worker was housed under the roof

A social inspection check was carried out in an Asian restaurant in Eghezée on March 16, 2018. A worker without a residence permit fled but was quickly caught. It turned out that it had been lodged in the roof slopings for 2 months. His last salary had not been paid to him. When questioned, he declared that he had paid 10,000 euros in China to smugglers to obtain a visa, a plane ticket, and come to work in Belgium. The first two defendants are the owners of the establishment who deny the prevention of human trafficking, but are in confession of the others. The third defendant, accused of being the co-author of human trafficking, is a distant relative of the worker who had fled. He claims to have simply welcomed him at Brussels airport and to have lodged him for 2 nights in Tongres before he began to work 54 hours a week in the restaurant in Eghezée.

Asked about the precarious status of the employee, one of the defendants, already convicted in 2016 for having made illegal residents work, said that she knew that he was not in order of residence permit. “I was 8 months pregnant, we couldn’t find employees and there was a lot of work, so I agreed to put him to work. As he had no papers, it was impossible for me to carry out the usual formalities. I also gave him his salary in cash on the day of the social inspection check.

The labor prosecutor requested prison sentences of one year and fines of 16,000 euros and a fine of 16,000 euros against the 3 defendants who had to answer for human trafficking charges. The two ladies are also accused of having made a foreigner work without a residence permit, an absence of immediate declaration of work, the non-posting of the working hours or the keeping of a register of derogations for two workers at part-time work and failure to pay within the prescribed time limits.

The council of the 2 defendants, one of whom is a mother of 4 children and at the head of 2 restaurants, pleads for the leniency of the court for the recognized prejudices. Me Preumont underlines the exceeding of the reasonable time and pleads the acquittal of the defendant accused of being co-author of human trafficking. “He is not involved in the arrival of this relative in Belgium, he simply did him a completely disinterested service, by welcoming him at the airport and housing him.

The same establishment was inspected last June. An illegal resident worker, the defendant’s father-in-law, fled this time.

Judgment on October 26.

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