An organization of “great international delinquency”, victims trapped in a “cycle of misfortune”: up to eleven years in prison were pronounced Wednesday in Paris at the trial of a vast network of Nigerian women , the “Authentic sisters.”
“Should we make an example in this case? Yes, of course,” said the President of the Criminal Court, Isabelle Prévost-Desprez, denouncing facts “of exceptional gravity”, “which violate the fundamental principles of the Republic.”
The court sentenced fifteen of the sixteen defendants, including ten “madames” pimps, for aggravated procuring and trafficking in human beings.
Most Nigerians were found guilty of illegally bringing young Nigerian girls to France and organizing their forced prostitution.
Built on the proven model of other Nigerian networks, that of the “Authentic sisters”, named after a club of “madames” installed in the Paris region, was part of the “international organized crime”, backed by “networks based on the corruption in Nigeria, Libya, France “, insisted the president.
The investigators counted at least 50 victims between 2013 and 2016 alone. Many came from Benin City, the Nigerian capital of human trafficking, or the poor countryside. They were most often sold by their families to recruiters at home in Nigeria, who in turn had connections with “madames” in France.
Against the organization of their smuggling in Europe with the help of smugglers and false documents – by plane or, it was cheaper, by the perilous Libyan route – these “madames” and recruiters asked the girls to pay them back a “debt”, often about 50,000 euros, through prostitution.
Before the departure, the victims were terrorized during a frightful ritual practiced by a sorcerer, the “juju” – a “contract of flesh and blood”, the prosecutor had described. The victim and her family pledged to repay the “debt” and not to denounce the pimps.
In France, “prisoners of their second mother”, the “madame”, young women found themselves “devoid of resources, the possibility of running away and escaping the cycle of misfortune”, according to Ms. Prévost-Desprez.
– “New slavery” –
Most of the defendants have themselves been sent to France by comparable networks. But, “far from wanting to prevent their compatriots this fate”, these “madames” instead preferred to “perpetuate a perfectly lucrative curse”, establishing “de facto a new slavery” in a “total absence of empathy for their victims “, continued the President of the court.
Regarded as the head of the “Authentic sisters”, Happy Iyenoma, aka “Mama Alicia”, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and 200,000 euros fine, and arrested at the hearing. Her husband was also arrested.
Nine of the ten other “madames” judged by her side were sentenced to between two and ten years’ imprisonment, some of whom were heavily fined, and three were also arrested in the courtroom. One was released.
Four other men, involved to varying degrees in this network, were sentenced to between two and eleven years in prison.
Ten defendants, including Ms. Iyenoma, were permanently banned from staying in France. “Many people are struggling to stay” in France, “and do so without going through fraudulent networks even if they are in desperate human situations.” It is also in the name of all those “that have been pronounced these prohibitions, assailed the president.
Several young women have testified at the hearing of the hell of these networks: rapes, forced abortions, threats on their families …
Placed under silence during the investigation, two of the “mamas” said “pray” that these victims “do not come” in court. “Otherwise,” said one of them, “we will have nothing more to say”.
By Juliette MONTESSE, AFP.