Josephine Iyamu, a 51 years old Nurse was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for trafficking five Nigerian women to Germany to work as prostitutes, controlling them through voodoo by a British Court.
The London-based British citizen, Iyamu, was found guilty in a “landmark modern slavery case’’ after the first prosecution involving victims outside Britain, the National Crime Agency said.
The investigation involved cooperation between Police in Britain, Nigeria and the German city of Trier.
It began after a brothel owner “raised concerns about the identity of a woman working there’’ with German Police, leading to Iyamu’s arrest in August, the agency said.
Prosecutors said she was the ringleader of a network recruiting vulnerable women in rural areas of Nigeria.
Iyamu charged her victims up to 44,000 dollars, which they were forced to repay by working in brothels.
She used a voodoo priest to perform traditional West African “juju’’ rituals, forcing the women to drink blood containing worms, eat chicken hearts, have their skin cut with razor blades and swear an oath of allegiance.
They were threatened with serious harm to them or their families if they broke the oath, prosecutors said.
“Iyamu specifically targeted vulnerable women and put them through the most horrific experience for her own financial gain.
“She thought to live in a different country to where her crimes were committed would protect her,’’ said Kay Mellor of the National Crime Agency after the sentencing.
Police and prosecutors praised the victims’ “courage to describe what happened to them’’ via video-links from Germany.