24 Feb 2003

Garment factory owner in American Samoa found guilty verdict in "modern slavery" case

7:23 am on 24 February 2003

The owner of a garment factory in American Samoa is facing a lengthy jail term after being found guilty of what has been described as modern day slavery.

Kill Soo Lee, a 52 year old South Korean, was convicted in a federal court in Honolulu on charges of conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and 11 counts of involuntary servitude.

The case involved Vietnamese and Chinese workers brought to American Samoa to work in the factory producing clothes with a "made in the US" label for American retailers.

The prosecution had told the court that the workers were confined to the factory compound, fed meagre amounst of food, beaten and threatened with deportation.

Two former Daewoosa workers, Nuuli Ioane and Sialavaa Fagaima have already pleaded guilty to trafficking charges.

Two other employees were acquitted at the weekend.

The attorney for one of the acquitted former managers of Daewoosa says his client had been wrongfully accused.

Robert Atimala and Viginia Solia'i were found not guilty of seven charges of involuntary servitude and one of conspiring with their employer, Kil Soo Lee.