Law-enforcement officers of the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda have completed an investigation into forced labor in the United Kingdom, filing suspicions against a resident of the Klaipėda district and two British citizens with human trafficking.
Protest against human trafficking in Munich
© AFP / Scanpix

The Klaipėda county police said on Thursday that the probe was conducted in cooperation with UK institutions, establishing that a 53-year-old resident of the Klaipėda district and owners of a UK-registered company used people for forced labor in England.

According to the suspicions, the men who worked as chicken catchers had been included in a slavery scheme on the pledge of easy and well-paid work. The victims did not speak English, did not have money or know local laws, were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, bodily and financial penalties.

They did not have any social guarantees, worked night shifts without days off and holidays, receiving considerably lower salaries than they had been promised. Furthermore, the workers lived in anti-sanitary conditions in small premises and rejected medical assistance.

In 2012, the owners of the company were detained in a large-scale operation, which included searches of the company's premises and territory, as well as the accommodation of the workers. Some 39 potential victims were interviewed in the initial phase.

The authorities suspect that the Lithuanian man could have received at least 100,600 euros for the abused Lithuanians in the course of three years. After escaping justice in Great Britain, he was detained in the Klaipėda district last December.

Twelve persons were qualified as victims in Lithuania.

Prosecutors decided to restrict the Lithuanian man's rights to his cash and money in bank, a car, a flat in Vilnius and land in the Klaipėda district.

If found guilty, the three suspects face between two and 12 years in prison.

Update:

Suspicions of human trafficking and enslavement were brought against Lithuanian Edikas Mankevičius, 53, and owners of a UK-registered company DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services, Darell Houghton and his wife Jacqueline Judge, senior Klaipėda prosecutor Ruslanas Ušinskas confirmed to BNS on Thursday.

Mankevičius was detained in Lithuania last year and remains in custody after courts repeatedly rejected his pleas to release him. The British spouses are not in Lithuania.

"They are required to attend the court hearings in Lithuania, if they are the defendants. Only witnesses can be questioned remotely, while they will have to be present in courtroom," the prosecutor told BNS.

Lithuania has not sent extradition requests to Great Britain, as the defendants can be reached and are not trying to escape justice. They have been questioned and received case materials. The British suspects say Mankevičius is guilty for everything. The man has no criminal records in Lithuania, however, has been punished for violence and animal smuggling abroad.

The Klaipėda county police said on Thursday that the probe was conducted in cooperation with UK institutions, establishing that a 53-year-old resident of the Klaipėda district and owners of a UK-registered company used people for forced labor in England.

According to the suspicions, the men who worked as chicken catchers had been included in a slavery scheme on the pledge of easy and well-paid work. The victims did not speak English, did not have money or know local laws, were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, bodily and financial penalties. The Lithuanians have been awarded more than 1 million euros in compensations from their former UK employers for the enslavement.

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