Dozens of vulnerable men and boys were kidnapped, chained up, whipped, fed scraps of food, and forced into manual labour or fighting for entertainment over an eight-year period in rural southern Romania, prosecutors said.
Three men and two boys aged 10 to 12 were found chained up and were rescued by police in the mountain town of Berevoiesti during searches yesterday at the homes of suspects — members of an extended Roma family. Some 160 police and prosecutors took part in the raid.
Organised crime prosecutors said the investigation involved 90 suspects who they say exploited around 40 people with physical and mental disabilities or who were very poor.
A statement said some victims were snatched from railway and bus stations, outside churches or even from their own homes and transported to private homes by members of the group.
Some of them performed domestic chores while others were made to transport and sell wood that was the product of illegal logging.
It said the captives were sometimes held in chains, whipped, beaten and threatened, refused food or made to eat off the ground, and coerced into fighting each other.
They were locked up overnight to prevent them escaping. Some were stripped naked and doused with hot or cold water.
There are suspicions some were raped or sexually abused. Police are questioning about 30 people, including women
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