The man is accused of having promised 10 men and one woman from Punjab that he would get them full-time jobs with a monthly salary of around 23,000 kronor in Sweden, if they first paid him 200,000-230,000 kronor, according to charges seen by The Local.
He told them that the fee would cover the cost of work permits and other documents and permits, even though the actual cost was only a fraction of the total sum he demanded.
Once they arrived in Sweden, however, there were no full-time jobs for them. Instead they were allegedly forced to work for the man under poor conditions.
“They were completely at his mercy. He controlled where they worked, for whom and to what extent. They risked not having accommodation if they refused. They were dependent on his good will to keep their work and residence permits,” the prosecutor, Anneli Tirud Wallin, told Swedish news agency TT.
According to the charge sheet the plaintiffs were trafficked to Sweden and Portugal and forced to work in the forestry, construction and restaurant industries.
Peter Ataseven, a lawyer representing the 11 plaintiffs, told TT they had paid the man with money they did not have, believing that they would earn it back in Sweden.
“They took out loans, liquidated business opportunities, had to sell land and pawn [their possessions], all just to come to Sweden,” said Ataseven.
The accused is also from Punjab but has been a Swedish citizen for years and lives in Södertälje, where most of the forced labour is said to have taken place. He denies the charges.
The trial is set to take place over 20 days between May 23rd and July 4th.