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Slovakian 'slave' trafficked to Burnley for marriage

image captionFive people were found guilty of human trafficking charges

Five people have been found guilty of trafficking a woman from Slovakia for a sham marriage to a Pakistani man to allow him to remain in the EU.

The Romany victim's account of being handled as a "human slave" read like "something from a 19th century novel by Dickens", Preston Crown Court heard.

She was taken while on a night out in Hungary, transported to Burnley and sold for marriage, the jury heard.

Azam Khan, 34, of Brougham Street held her prisoner, raped and assaulted her.

'Bad people'

He had "married" her in a sham ceremony at a local mosque.

Khan was due to be deported and marriage to an EU national in an Islamic ceremony would have gone some way to allowing him to seek leave to remain in the UK, police said.

Officers discovered her thanks to an anonymous tip-off last October.

She told police: "I was so scared for my life. Many times I wanted to run away from them but because of what the bad people told me.

"I didn't know where to run, where to go, or who I could trust. All I wanted to do was go home to my family in Slovakia."

Following a two-month trial, Khan was found guilty of arranging to bring a person to the UK for exploitation, false imprisonment, rape and common assault.

Through interviews with the victim it became clear she had been brought to England on a coach, police said.

She was kept against her will by Imrich Bodor, 45, and Slovakian Petra Dzudzova, 27, both of Clipstone Street, Bradford.

Soon after she was handed over to Afghani Abdul Sabool Shinwary, 38, of Washington Street, Bradford, who sexually assaulted her, and Slovakian Kristina Makunova, 37, of Girlington Road, Bradford.

Makunova earlier pleaded guilty to human trafficking and false imprisonment offences and was handed a 51-week prison sentence, which she has already served.

The victim was sold to Azam Khan. His relative Nusrat Khan, 40, of Colne Road, Burnley was also found guilty of false imprisonment.

Joe Boyd, prosecuting, told the court: "What links all these people together is a series of events which sound more like something from a 19th century novel by Dickens than anything happening in Europe in the 21st century.

"[The victim] was handled round the continent and this country like a commodity, a human slave."