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Judge awards almost $1M in slavery case

July 12, 2008 at 8:44 PM   |   Comments

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y., July 12 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled two Indonesian women forced into domestic slavery by a New York couple are owed double back pay.

At a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt ordered Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani of Muttontown on Long Island to pay their former servants almost $1 million in restitution as part of the criminal case against them, Newsday reported. He calculated the amount assuming the two were on duty at all times and should have been paid overtime in addition to a basic wage.

The Sabhnanis have received prison terms for forcing the two women to work for them after bringing them into the country under false pretenses.

Steven Scaring, Mahender Sabhnani's attorney, said the judge made "absurd calculations" resulting in a windfall.

"Restitution is to restore someone, not to enhance the victim," he said.

Samirah, who was with the Sabhnanis for more than five years, was awarded $620,744, while Enung, who was there for two years, is to get $315,802. Their treatment came to light in 2007 when Samirah escaped and went to a Dunkin' Donuts nearby for help.

Spatt said he expects his calculations and reasoning to be examined by an appeals court.

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