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14.10.10

A gang of Romanian gypsies kidnapped nearly 200 poor children, took them to Britain and forced them to work as pick-pockets and beggars.
Some of the children were disfigured to improve their earning potential, it was reported here.
Daily Telegraph on Tuesday reported that 181 children were beaten and abused. Some of them were even deliberately disfigured since disabled beggars were considered to generate more income.
The children who did not beg were forced to become pick-pockets, wash car windscreens or shoplift. The children's earnings had to be handed over to the men who were controlling them, a court was told.
26 men went on trial at Harghita criminal court. They were accused of trafficking offences.
The men who are from Tandarei in Ialomita county, southern Romania, are also charged with money laundering, firearms offences and membership of local mafia clans.

The gang came to the notice of authorities in Romania after they began building huge homes at Tandarei. Over 300 officers carried out raids at addresses across Slough in Berkshire and in Romania.
The gang used to arrange the transport and bogus documents so that the children could be taken to Britain and then held hostage in a series of safe houses, said prosecutors from Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism.
Court documents show that some of the children were taught to steal money from shops and restaurants while others were imparted skills to carry out burglary.
The children were told their families would be at risk if they tried to flee, and families were told the children would be harmed if they made a complaint to authorities, a police spokesman was quoted as saying.



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