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Bangladeshi Diplomat Indicted For Allegedly Keeping Housekeeper As Slave

A Bangladeshi diplomat was indicted for allegedly keeping a housekeeper as a slave, forcing him to work 18-hour days without pay and keeping him in the diplomat's Queens home through physical abuse and threats, according to prosecutors.

According to the Queens District Attorney's office, a grand jury indicted Mohammed Shaheldul Islam, a Deputy Consul General with the country of Bangladesh, on a 33-count indictment. The list of charges against Islam include grand larceny, assault, labor trafficking, unlawful imprisonment, failure to pay the minimum wage and second-degree harassment.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, "The allegations in this case are very disturbing. A consular officer is accused of using both physical force and vile threats to control a person in his employment and whom he refused to pay."

According to the indictment, Islam allegedly hired the victim as a housekeeper and brought him from Bangladesh to Jamaica Estates, Queens in 2012. When the unnamed victim arrived, Islam allegedly confiscated the housekeeper's passport and forced him to work without pay for up to 18 hours each day, despite the fact that the victim "had a contract which outlined his compensation." If the housekeeper complained or tried to leave, Islam allegedly beat the victim with a wooden shoe or his hand, or would threaten his family back in Bangladesh.

Islam also allegedly tried to cover his tracks by forcing the housekeeper to take the tips that he got working parties at the Jamaica Estates home, turning them into a paycheck which was given back to the housekeeper and then forcing the housekeeper to deposit the check in a bank account. The housekeeper was finally able to escape and told his story to police at the 84th Precinct's stationhouse in Brooklyn in May of 2016, according to the News.

While the press release from the District Attorney's office claims that Islam only has limited immunity which "pertains specifically to official actions only," CNN reports that the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Americas Wing in Bangladesh texted a reporter to say that she "lodged strong protest on the arrest of our (deputy consul general) New York," and that the ministry itself called the arrest a "clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations," in an official statement.

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