(photo credit: AP)
After months of silence and gag orders, police were finally able to reveal a breakthrough Thursday, when members of a women trafficking ring were brought to the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court to have their remands extended.
Following a long investigation, two suspects were extradited from the Czech Republic to Israel and police arrested another two suspects here - all under suspicion of involvement in women trafficking, as well as a myriad of related offenses including pimping, imprisonment, assault, threats and rape.
The case was opened following a February 2006 complaint made by "Isha l'Isha" (Woman to Woman) - an organization that fights women trafficking - and for the past nine months, has been investigated by detectives from the elite International and Serious Crimes Unit.
The complaint was based on the testimony of two young women, both Ukrainian citizens, who were being held in the Michal Detention Facility. The two, were allegedly smuggled into Israel across the Sinai border by the two prime suspects, Vladislav Vaksler and Alexander Berg.
According to police suspicions, Vaksler and Berg forced the women to work as prostitutes.
But that was just the beginning of the nightmare. The two young women said that during their time in the country, they were taken advantage of financially, were held against their will, were subjected to repeated physical abuse and were repeatedly raped.
The two testified that they had originally been forced to work in Haifa, but following a crackdown by the immigration police, were sent to work in Tel Aviv.
When police began the undercover investigation into the women's claims, the prime suspects fled Israel and settled in the Czech Republic, where police say that they continued to traffic in women.
After the police investigation was concluded, with the cooperation of the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office and the State Attorney's International Department, Israel requested that the two be returned to the country to stand trial.
Vaksler and Berg, as well as the other two Israeli residents also suspected of involvement in the affair were all brought to the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court Thursday afternoon, where their remands were extended until next Monday. In that time, police and district attorneys hope to have completed the indictments against the four.
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