Couple Guilty of Keeping Slaves

Chaos in court as verdict is read
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2007 10:31 PM CST
A photo released by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Central Islip, N.Y.. showing one of the enslaved housemaids in her resting place on a mat on the floor. Varsha Sabhnani, and her husband, Mahender were...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Pandemonium reigned in a Long Island federal court today as verdicts in a sensational slavery case were being read. The jury found a wealthy Indian couple, Varsha Sabhnani, 46, and her husband Mahender, 51, guilty on 12 counts, including forced labor, debt servitude and harboring illegal immigrants for mistreating two Indonesian house maids.  First, a daughter of the Sabhnanis collapsed, then Varsha Sabhnani herself did, Newsday reports.

The couple was accused of beating, starving and torturing the two Indonesian women  who came to the US to work with them to support children back home. "We're very disappointed in the verdict," the defense attorney said. "We will pursue this so that they get justice." Tomorrow the court will rule on whether the government can seize the couple's home, for having been used as an accessory in the commission of a crime.