‘Sex-trafficking’ family is arrested

By Michal Levertov, August 28, 2008
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An Israel mother and daughter have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking women for prostitution from Israel to London.

Therese Orland, 55, and Katrin (Katty) Atiya, 28, were detained on Sunday as they arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport and were remanded until Wednesday. They are suspected of human trafficking, false imprisonment, assault and theft. The adverts boasted that the women could earn $1,000 (£538) a day. Police said that those who answered the adverts would then meet Mrs Atiya in a café and she would explain the nature of the work.

But once the women arrived in the UK, the conditions of the agreement changed and they allegedly received only a 40 per cent cut of their earnings, although they had been promised 50 per cent and were made to pay expenses such as rent and transport.

Most of them stayed in the six or seven flats which Mrs Atiya rented on London's Fulham Road.
Police say some of the women had their passports taken by Mrs Atiya and her mother, and were made to work longer hours than originally agreed.

Using phone records, police traced 15 women who had answered the adverts and were trafficked to London.

Supt Shuki Balili, head of the Department for Severe Crime and Women Trafficking at the Israel police unit which investigates international crime, said: "Katty [Katrin] was the dominant figure. She advertised on the internet, she rented the flats and she accompanied the whole work process.

"The women trafficked consisted of a few students, but most of the women have already been involved in prostitution in Israel. They understood exactly what the purpose of the journey was, but did not understand that the terms promised to them would be altered."

Police also found internet sites run by the suspects that showed pictures of the women as well as a price for obtaining sexual services from them. Prices ranged from £160 for an hour to £1,000 for the night. They also confiscated a computer on which they found further pictures of naked women.

Supt Balili said that Mrs Atiya allegedly started offering girls as escorts in London in 2004. He added that she also worked as an escort herself.

Her husband, Amos Atiya, and her mother, Mrs Orland, joined her in London and Supt Balili said the alleged human-trafficking ring became a "family business".

Amos Atiya's brother, Moshe, was also allegedly involved and was arrested on Tuesday. He and Mrs Orland are accused of locking four of the girls in one of the flats and of taking their money. Moshe Atiya is also accused of raping them.

Both Ms Orland and Mrs Atiya this week denied the allegations through their lawyer. Shlomi Blumenfeld said: "We're sorry that the police chose to conduct the investigation [in] the media. We will present our claims in court and not in the media."

A hearing regarding their detention on remand was due to have taken place yesterday (Thursday).

In May 2007, police broke up a similar ring that had advertised for jobs abroad for "pretty young women". The jobs in fact involved working as prostitutes in Ireland.

The Metropolitan Police said Israeli authorities had informed it of the case but had not requested its assistance.

Last updated: 1:17pm, August 28 2008