A British court has found Josephine Iyamu, a nurse of Nigerian descent, guilty of trafficking five women to Germany for prostitution.
Iyamu, a Liberia-born British citizen, was convicted of five counts of arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation and perverting the course of justice.
During her trial, members of the jury were told that the 51-year-old nurse coerced the women — all Nigerians — to swear to secrecy during “juju” rituals and to also pay for her service.
The rituals involved eating chicken hearts, drinking blood containing worms, and rubbing powder into cuts.
In his argument, Simon Davis, lead prosecutor said Iyamu exerted “psychological control” over the women during the “juju” rituals.
According to him, the victims were forced to incur huge debts through fear.
One of the victims was allegedly forced to pay as much as £32,700 (approximately N13 million) to cross from Nigeria into Germany through the Mediterranean.
The victims also testified that they were threatened with serious harm to themselves and their relatives if they broke their oath, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Efe Ali-Imaghodor, her 60-year old husband, was found innocent of “doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice”.
Prior to the trial, Iyamu, who became a British citizen in 2009, worked as an NHS agency nurse.
BBC reports that Iyamu is the first person to be convicted under the Modern Slavery Act passed into law by the British government in 2015.
The law makes provisions for victims who have no connection to the UK but have been victimised by a British national.
Iyamu will be sentenced on July 4.