Seven Portuguese – five men and two women – have been detained by Spanish Guardia Civil police for allegedly enslaving fellow nationals to work in the autonomous community of La Rioja.
The group’s victims were apparently lured into agricultural ‘slavery’ on the pretext that they would be embarking on lucrative work. But when they arrived, they were stripped of their documents and personal possessions and placed in an attic “with no windows, no beds and meagre food rations”.
At least three Portuguese people managed to denounce the situation, describing their “real terror” over what went on.
National tabloid Correio da Manhã has explained that the victims “are all people of lowly social conditions, homeless and unemployed”.
For “several weeks” they were taken to work in a truck – the property of the arrested Portuguese men and women, now held in a Spanish jail – and paid €25 for an eight-hour day’s work, which was then depleted by charges for food and accommodation.
The seven people detained are aged between 23 and 60, says CM. They are all due to appear in court in La Rioja this week, and it is possible that the defendants will be handed prison sentences, the paper adds.