Polish slaves in Italian camps

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Polish slaves in Italian camps

Postby nomo » Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:10 pm

<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-07-18T184117Z_01_L18295152_RTRUKOC_0_UK-ITALY-POLAND-SLAVES.xml&archived=False">today.reuters.co.uk/news/...ived=False</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>Italian police free 113 Polish slave labourers<br></strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END-->Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:41 PM BST<br><br>By Silvia Aloisi<br><br>ROME (Reuters) - Italian police on Tuesday freed 113 Poles living "like slaves" in forced labour camps, where those refusing to work were raped, tortured with metal batons and attacked by dogs.<br><br>Authorities in both countries said that at least four workers had apparently committed suicide in the camps in Italy's southern region of Puglia, but those deaths were being investigated as suspicious.<br><br>"To call the situation revealed by the carabinieri investigation simply inhuman does in no way do it justice," Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor, Piero Grasso, told reporters in the southern city of Bari.<br><br>"We are talking about conditions similar to those of concentration camps where people were not only exploited for their work but also kept in a state of slavery," he said.<br><br>Twenty people were arrested for human trafficking in a joint operation in Italy and Poland, codenamed "Promised Land", and police were looking for seven more people.<br><br>They were allegedly members of a criminal ring that recruited people in Poland through adverts in newspapers promising them a safe job as agricultural workers in Italy.<br><br>"Those who applied were charged 400-800 zlotys (68-136 pounds), plus another 150 euros when they reached Italy," Polish police chief Marek Bienkowski told a news conference in Warsaw.<br><br>He said the workers in the camps were held in rooms without heating, light or gas and were watched by Ukrainian, Italian and Polish armed guards.<br><br>He added there was evidence of forced prostitution, rapes, torture with metal batons of those who tried to resist. Some victims had dogs set against them and were threatened with guns.<br><br>"They were not allowed to return back home and in order to prevent contact with the outside world they were watched by guards who did not allow them to escape," he said.<br><br>Italian police said the Poles were forced to work for up to 15 hours a day for a salary of between two and five euros per hour. They were fed little more than bread and water, slept on the floor and were forced to pay a 20-euro fine if they fell sick.<br><br>According to the Polish news agency PAP, more than 1,000 Poles may have been victims of the ring. Apart from the four suicides being investigated, police in both countries did not rule out that more people may have been killed or died from exhaustion.<br><br>(additional reporting by Tomasz Janowski in Warsaw) <p></p><i></i>
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