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Traffickers held after victim testifies over video conference

The Sessions Court on Wednesday sentenced two persons allegedly involved in the trafficking of girls for prostitution, to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 11,000. The victim, who was a minor when she was rescued in 2014, deposed before the court from Bangladesh via video conferencing, thereby leading to the conviction of the accused.

Additional Sessions Judge MB Datye sentenced Sujay Mandal, 38, and Mamta Das, 36, rigorous punishment under Section 370 of the IPC for buying or disposing of any person as a slave and Sections of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

According to the police, in December 2013, the minor's neighbour enticed her on the pretext of a job in India, brought her to Kolkata from Bangladesh, and later to Mumbai. Here she was kept in different locations where she was abused and was later brought to Jamna Mansion in Grant Road area where was sold to Das.

Mandal and Das were arrested on January 31, 2014 by the DB Marg Police based on information provided by NGO International Justice Mission (IJM).

The trial proceedings before the Sessions Court began only in 2015, after the repatriation of both the girls. When the time came for the victim to testify before the court, it seemed impossible for the police to bring her back to India. Additional Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonzalves requested the court to have the victims depose before the court through video conferencing, which was accepted by the court.

"The police additionally requested the assistance of Rights Jessore, an anti-trafficking organisation in Bangladesh to make arrangements for the victim to testify. On June 6, the minor victim deposed before the court through video conference. She identified and implicated the accused in the case as her traffickers. This testimony along with the witness testimonies were relied on as evidence against the accused. It was a good example of how the Public Justice System can work together with NGOs to bring justice to victims of sex trafficking," said watching Advocate Joanita Britto from IJM.

She added, through the video conference testimony the minor victim was able to ensure that the perpetrators were punished for their crimes. "Additionally, the judge ordered compensation of Rs 5,000 to be awarded to each victim," Britto said.