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Thai Woman Denies Slave Charges

April 14, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Thai woman accused of bringing two immigrants to the United States and holding them as servants pleaded innocent to charges of harboring and employing illegal immigrants.

A May 26 trial in U.S. District Court was set on Monday for Supawan Veerapol, 52, who was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury.

Veerapol, a restaurant owner and Thai national, allegedly used her ties to high-ranking Thai officials to obtain U.S. visas for the two women, Thonglim Khamphiranon, 41, and Somkhit Yindiphot, 57.

Veerapol’s common-law husband is Thailand’s ambassador to Sweden, Prasat Mansuwan, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

The women escaped from Veerapol’s home in suburban Woodland Hills in January and contacted authorities. They claimed Veerapol had threatened to hurt them and their families if they left her house.

The women, who sought refuge in a Los Angeles homeless shelter, told authorities they were forced to work up to 16 hours a day for little pay and were denied medical treatment when they were sick. They also claimed they were forced to sleep on the floor outside Veerapol’s bedroom door.

Veerapol faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.

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