25 Oct 2002

Daewoosa trial in Hawaii hears first witness

11:38 am on 25 October 2002

A US prosecutor has told a jury in Hawaii that the owner of the American Samoan garment factory, Daewoosa Samoa, had starved his Asian workers and threatened them with deportation if they spoke out.

The prosecutor said the case is about modern day slavery and the greed of the owner, Kil Soo Lee.

The defence lawyer said foreign workers in American Samoa had to have a sponsor by law and they were upset by contractual problems with the Vietnamese goverenment recruitment agency.

One witness has taken to the stand so far, telling the court she had used her home as collateral for a loan to pay the 5-thousand US dollars for a job at Daewoosa.

The trial of Lee and two co-defendants is expected to take several months.