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Slovakian woman ‘brought to Glasgow and forced to marry man’

Several women were said to have been brought over from Slovakia and held in 'slavery or servitude'.

Human trafficking: Women were allegedly brought from Slovakia.
Human trafficking: Women were allegedly brought from Slovakia.

A woman told jurors she was brought to Glasgow penniless and forced to marry a Pakistani man in Ireland.

The 28-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was giving evidence at the High Court in Glasgow, in the trial of Vojtech Gombar, 61, Anil Wagle, 37, Jana Sandorova, 28,and Ratislav Adam, 31, who deny trafficking women into Scotland for prostitution and slavery. 

Prosecutors allege women were brought over from Slovakia and held in “slavery or servitude” between 2011 to 2017.

The woman, speaking via a video link from her native Slovakia, said a woman called Helena Cicova came to her home and offered her a good job in England with potatoes.

She said she was flown to Glasgow at the end of 2011 and installed in a third-floor flat in Glasgow’s Govanhill.

The woman said she left her home town with only the clothes on her back, no money and could not speak any English.

She was asked by prosecutor Kath Harper: “Was there any work for you in Glasgow,” and through an interpreter she replied: “No. Helena told me there was no work for me.”

She added: “I wished to go home but there was a problem. I had no money and couldn’t buy tickets.”

She was asked if she knew where Glasgow was in the UK and replied: “No I thought I was in London.”

The woman told the High Court in Glasgow she met Cicova’s cousin Gombar, whom she called uncle, on two occasions.

On one of these she went to Gombar’s Glasgow home. Also there were two Pakistani men.

Ms Harper said: “Did you understand you were to marry one of them,” and the witness replied: “Yes.”

The court heard she married Sohaib Ali in a restaurant in Drogheda, Country Meath on June 26, 2012.

The prosecutor asked: “Were you asked if your marriage was voluntary,” and the woman replied: “Yes.”

Ms Harper went on: “Was that true,” and she said: “It was not true. I did not love my husband and I did not know him.”

The witness was asked why she went through with the marriage and stated: “I was forced. What else could I do without money.

“Helena told me I must get married and I was afraid.”

The woman was asked if she overheard Gombar and Cicova discussing anything before she left for Ireland and said: “I heard Helena say it was good business.”

The witness said that was all she could remember of that conversation.

But when she was asked about further comments she made in a statement given to Slovakian police she agreed they were true.

In the statement she said: “Helena said she wouldn’t give me any money, but would split it with Vojtech Gombar. They said it was 4000 Euros for the wedding.”

The married couple, who could only communicate by gestures because they did not speak each other’s language, have since divorced and she is back in Solvakia. 

All four accused, who live in Govanhill, Glasgow, are alleged to have “conspiring to commit the crime of trafficking people for exploitation and trafficking in prostitution”.

Gombar, Sandorova and Adam are also charged with compelling women to work as prostitutes and managing a brothel. They are alleged to have told one woman they would make her homeless unless she worked as a prostitute and threatened another with violence.

The charge claims they did “discuss plans to purchase or obtain control and ownership of women” from Slovakia and elsewhere in the UK.

The accusations are said to have been “aggravated by a connection with serious and organised crime”.

The trial before Lord Beckett continues.

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