The Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) has conducted several searches in Maramures, northwestern Romania, on an alleged white-slavery ring suspected of human trafficking. The criminal group, which also included two German citizens is suspected of bringing children from Germany under the pretext of “re-education”. In fact, the children were used for exhausting works, were kept as slaves, humiliated and beaten. Some of them even tried to kill themselves.
DIICOT prosecutors searched 8 houses in Viseu de Sus and Leordina localities in Maramures county, following mounting suspicions of human trafficking and white slavery against under aged.
Investigators say that, during 2014-August 2019, eight suspects, including a German couple, set up a criminal organised group for trafficking several German youngsters, aged from 12 to 18, under the false pretext of conducting ‘re-education activities’ that were aimed for the social reinsertion of the children, based on some programmes and projects carried out by the two German citizens.
“Actually, the youngsters were held hostage, were banned from talking to their families in Germany or to other people or authorities in Romania and they were forced to pay exhausting works in the households of some locals close to the criminal group, under the pretext of a so-called <re-education programme> masterminded by the German citizens. The works were beyond the youngsters’ physical capacities and age and defied the affections some of them were suffering of. The traffickers held them hostages, threatened and repeatedly assaulted them through humiliating and demeaning methods.
The youngsters were traumatised following repeated beat, were deprived from food and they had to endure intrusive medical maneuvers despite their will. They were confined in a so-called <arrest>, deliberately held outside while it was raining or freezing, all that as <a punishment> meant to <educate> the kids. Some of the children had clear suicidal intentions,” reads a DIICOT press release.
The directorate also says that so-called social re-education programme, was financed by the German state, and founded and coordinated by the German pair. The social service representing the programme is called “Projekt Maramureş”, and has as accredited supplier a NGO based in Baia Mare.
Some of the abused children have been identified and sent to the custody of the local General Directorate for Child Protection.
Mayor questions charges
On the other hand, Mayor of Viseu de Sus, Vasile Coman has questioned the DIICOT investigation, doubting there is any human trafficking case at stake. “There are tens of children from Germany, they are in very good condition“, the mayor argued.
“I don’t think the German state is giving children to an NGO from Germany to do human trafficking, there were checks from Germany. It is a German NGO that has been functioning before 2012 when I was elected mayor. There are tens of children from Germany, psychologists, teachers are coming, they have very good conditions, they are accommodated in a centre located in a very beautiful location, on Vinului Valley from Viseu de Sus,” the mayor stated.
He underlined he has no knowledge about crimes committed there. “Those children from Germany have various problems, they live here until they turn 18 and then they return to Germany. I talked to some of them, they learnt Romanian very quickly, they told me they would not go back to Germany for they like in Romania,” mayor Vasile Coman added.