Two directors of the now-shuttered textiles factory Leisure Clothing have been jailed for six years each after a court of appeals found them guilty of human trafficking.

Leisure Clothing’s managing director Han Bin and marketing director Jia Liu, both Chinese nationals, were given six-year jail terms on Friday and escorted out of court to Corradino Correctional Facility.

The two exploited Vietnamese and Chinese employees of the Bulebel-based factory, paying them a pittance while forcing them to work long days with few to no breaks, in poor conditions.

Leisure Clothing was a major textile manufacturer in Malta, sewing garments for high-end labels such as Emporio Armani and Karen Millen. Owned by Chinese firm CICET, it shut down in 2017 following the arrest of the two directors.

A magistrate’s court had initially found Bin Han guilty and acquitted Jia Liu. But Bin Han, who also has Maltese nationality, was given a suspended sentence, meaning he did not spend time behind bars.

The Attorney General had appealed that decision.

On Friday, a court of criminal appeal presided over by Edwina Grima found in favour of prosecutors, ruling that the two company directors were guilty and sentencing them each to six years in prison.

The two men must also split the costs of the case, the court ruled.

A €200,000 fine against Leisure Clothing was upheld. 

Attorney General lawyer Etienne Savona prosecuted. Edward Gatt and Pio Valletta were defence counsel. Lara Dimitrijevic appeared as parte civile.

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