A Kosovan man and his four adult sons are going on trial accused of keeping four women as sex slaves for 16 years in Switzerland after taking them from the Balkans when they were minors.
The five men are set to appear before a court in the municipality of Moutier, in the Bern canton in Switzerland next week.
Albrim F., 65, and his four sons allegedly kept the four women as sex slaves for 16 years in the middle of the country and no one noticed.
He is alleged to have brought the four women when they were just girls aged between 14 and 17 as “wives” from the Balkans to Switzerland for each of his four sons. They were then allegedly raped and forced to do housework.
One of the girls was forced into an arranged marriage by her parents, who were reportedly told she would have a better life in Switzerland.
Another girl was allegedly sold to Albrim F. for just EUR 300.
The women were reportedly subjected to systematic brute physical and psychological violence, according to Swiss media.
They were allegedly beaten, humiliated, threatened with death, isolated and raped by family members for years.
The indictment reportedly accuses the defendants of hitting one girl with a belt more than 20 times, while another was strangled and beaten until she bled while pregnant.
One of the victims even had to wash her father-in-law’s and her brother-in-law’s feet every evening.
The allegations against the defendants are reportedly 30 pages long, with the women reportedly forced to do housework from dawn til dusk every day, with barely any contact with their family and rarely allowed to leave home.
Lawyer Dominic Nellen, 38, represents two of the women and said that they are “well protected by the judiciary” and now finally “in a safe place”.
He said his clients are seriously traumatised, adding: “They came as minors, sometimes crossing the green border. They had to walk through the forest all night. And then they were raped by their husbands right after their arrival. That broke these women.”
Nellen said that behind the inhuman behaviour lies a medieval Albanian customary law called ‘kanun’, with all paths leading to clan leader Albrim F.
Nellen said: “It is a large family clan with the father-in-law as the patriarchal ruler. He was in the centre, he gave the orders.”
Eventually, the Swiss authorities got wind of the situation, with Nellen saying: “The social services began to impose conditions. For example, that the women had to take language courses and look for a job.”
It was their first step to freedom, with Nellen saying: “They realised that such abuse is not normal.”
He added: “Before the authorities imposed conditions, everyone lived under one roof.”
The women finally managed to escape in 2019, some 16 years after the first victim was brought to Switzerland.
The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.
They face charges pertaining to human trafficking, forced marriage, physical harm, coercion, rape and sexual acts with children.
It is currently unclear how long they face behind bars, with that to be determined at a later hearing.
The case is set to start next week.