Tongan couple accused of ‘importing’ a Fijian woman to work as a servant and keeping her locked up in their home for 8 years

A couple who travelled to work in Australia from Tonga ‘imported’ a live-in worker from Fiji because they felt a servant was missing from their lives, a Queensland court has been told.

Isikeli Feleatoua Pulini and Malavine Pulini are on trial for human trafficking and forced labour offences in relation to allegedly bringing a woman to work in their Brisbane home for about $250 per fortnight from 2008.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the trafficking and forced labour charges in Brisbane District Court on Monday but pleaded guilty to harbouring an unlawful non-citizen.

In his opening address, crown prosecutor Ben Power told the court the woman lived hidden from plain sight, with neighbours oblivious of her alleged forced labour in suburban Brisbane.

Mr Power told the court the alleged victim had initially worked as a domestic servant for the pair in Tonga in the early 2000s, earning about $90 to $170 a fortnight.

But in 2006 Mr Pulini and Ms Pulini secured work in Australia as a civil engineer and public servant respectively.

Mr Power said the couple felt like there was something missing from their lives after their arrival, and allegedly arranged for the woman to travel to Australia twice on a tourist visa.

Upon the woman’s second arrival in 2008, the Pulinis allegedly took her passport and said they would use it to get her an Australian visa.

Mr Power said the woman feared asking for her passport back and it was not returned until 2013, after it had expired.

He said the woman felt depressed as the years wore on, allegedly working on call around the clock, before she escaped in 2016.

The trial is expected to continue for most of the week.

About Michael Faga

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