1 May 2006

Tongan man in US given 26-year jail term for abusing workers

1:35 pm on 1 May 2006

A Tongan businessman in the US has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for abusing workers and treating them like slaves.

The Honolulu Federal District Court sentenced Lueleni Maka on 25 counts, including human trafficking, involuntary servitude, forced labor, alien harboring, alien smuggling and document falsification in a case prosecutors described as modern-day slavery.

Maka was a respected member of the Tongan community in Honolulu and was known for his generosity.

But the US District Judge, Susan Mollway, says Maka's service to his community doesn't come close to erasing his responsibility for the crimes the jury says he committed.