Wednesday 21 March 2018

Tales of captivity that shocked world

WHILE details are still emerging about the three women's situation, their story of enslavement is a chilling reminder of others who were held in captivity or servitude for decades.


Josef Fritzl imprisoned and raped his 18-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years in the basement under his home in Amstetten, Austria – fathering seven of her children. Three of the children stayed imprisoned with their mother, one child died as an infant, and three were raised by Josef and his wife Rosemarie as foundlings. In April 2008, Kerstin, the eldest daughter, fell unconscious and was brought to hospital and from there the gruesome story kept for decades unravelled.Fritzl was arrested on 26 April 2008 and, aged 73, was sentenced to life in prison.


Ariel Castro kidnapped three young women and held them as sex slaves in a case that stunned Cleveland, Ohio, in the US.

He snatched Michelle Knight, aged 21 in 2002; 17-year-old Amanda Berry in 2003; and 14-year-old Georgina DeJesus in 2004.

He held the girls captive for years, repeatedly raping and beating them. The three were freed on May 6 this year when Amanda escaped with her six-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro, and alerted police. Castro was arrested on the same day and on July 26 pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder (or causing miscarriages).

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, one month into his sentence he was found dead, aged 53, in his cell after hanging himself.


Members of an Irish Traveller family were jailed after they forced destitute men into servitude.

Tommy Connors Senior (53) was jailed for eight years and his son Patrick (21) for five years at Luton Crown Court.

The pair, from the Greenacres site in Little Billington, Leighton Buzzard, had been convicted last year of servitude, compulsory labour and assault charges after a trial at the same court.

James John (34) and Josie Connors (31) were also jailed for 11 years and four years respectively for controlling, exploiting and abusing destitute men.

The sentencing judge called the pair "violent, cold, hard exploiters".

The victims, some of whom were held captive for 15 years, were forced to work in the Connors' block paving business and were given little food.

They were forced to wash in cold water and paid little or no money for working up to 19 hours a day.

Other members of the Connors family were also arrested and convicted.


In 2009 a court heard how an African woman was forced to work for up to 18 hours a day in a case of "modern-day slavery". Mwanahamisi Mruke was trafficked into Britain from Tanzania and then made to sleep on a mattress on the kitchen floor of the north-west London home belonging to Saeeda Khan during her three-year ordeal. She was initially given just £10 a month to complete all of her chores, but after a year payments ceased. Khan, a 68-year-old widow, was guilty of "the most appalling greed", a judge said, after a jury unanimously convicted her of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation. She was handed a suspended prison term.


Wolfgang Priklopil kidnapped 10-year-old Natascha Kampusch as she made her way to school near Vienna, Austria, in 1998.

He forced her to live in a specially built underground cell beneath his garage in the town of Strasshof in Austria for eight years until she escaped in August 2006.

Priklopil (44) committed suicide on a train track within hours of Natascha's escape.

Suspicions have been raised that suggest Priklopil had an accomplice whose identity was covered up by authorities.


Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy snatched 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard outside her home in South Lake Tahoe, California, in June 1991 while she was going to school. They held her captive in their backyard in Antioch, California, for 18 years. During her captivity Jaycee was repeatedly raped and gave birth to two children. Jaycee was rescued in 2009 when campus security officers at the University of California, Berkeley, raised the alarm after suspicions about Garrido were raised while Jaycee and her two daughters were with him.

At trial in 2011, Garrido was sentenced to 431 years in prison while Nancy received 36 years.


Last month Ashar (84) was convicted of repeatedly raping a deaf and mute Pakistani girl, trafficked into the UK.

A jury in Manchester was told the girl was beaten and slapped and forced to work for Ashar and his family as a domestic servant.

While Ashar used his victim to satisfy his sexual desires, the girl was also used to steal more than £30,000 in benefits.

Jurors were visibly distressed as details of the case were read in court.

Irish Independent

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