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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 03:45 GMT 04:45 UK
California pair admit enslavement
An Egyptian former couple have pleaded guilty to enslaving a 10-year-old girl in their southern California home.

The girl, who was brought to the US from Egypt, was forced to work 16-hour days and was not allowed to leave the house during her 20-month ordeal.

Abdel Nasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim, 45, and his ex-wife, Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd Motelib, 43, agreed to plead guilty to four federal charges.

They face jail terms of three years when they are sentenced in October.

The girl, whose name was not released, was brought to the US by the couple in August 2000 when she was 10.

Squalor

She was forced to clean their home, take care of their five children, prepare food and do the laundry, for no pay. She lived in squalor in the garage and was told that if she left the house in Irvine, southern California, she might be arrested.

The girl was discovered by immigration officials in April 2002 after an anonymous tip-off.

We did a mistake here in the United States of America because we didn't respect the law. At that time we were new here
Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd Motelib
Defendant

Ibrahim and Motelib pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary servitude and harbouring an illegal alien.

The pair also admitted slapping the girl at least once to get her to work, said the plea agreement.

They now face three-year jail terms when they are sentenced on 23 October. They must also pay the girl, now 16, $101,516 (56,000) in compensation and back pay.

Recess

After the hearing in Santa Ana, the judge called a recess after Motelib had difficulty admitting her crimes to the court, reported the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

"We did a mistake here in the United States of America because we didn't respect the law," she said through her translator. "At that time we were new here."

One of her daughters wept quietly as the hearing went on, the paper said.

The girl is now with foster parents and attending a public high school. She has received a green card granting her permanent residency.




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