9 Nov 2015

Human trafficking trial begins

5:29 pm on 9 November 2015

The first witnesses have given evidence in the country's first prosecution on charges of human trafficking.

The Crown opened the case today in the High Court in Nelson.

Jaswinder Singh (right) and Satnam Singh (second from left), with two interpreters, at the High Court in Nelson on Monday 9 November.

At the High Court in Nelson, (from left) interpreter, Satnam Singh, interpreter and Jaswinder Singh Sangha. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Three men are defending charges laid by Immigration New Zealand relating to the arrival in the country of 18 Indian citizens some seven years ago.

Brothers Jaswinder Singh Sangha, and Satnam Singh were arrested in Motueka in August last year, and a third man whose name is suppressed was arrested in Auckland a day later.

Mr Singh and Mr Sangha are defending charges of arranging the entry of people to this country by deception, or trafficking. Mr Sangha also faces a charge, along with the third man arrested, of providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer.

The Crown seeks to prove crimes of trafficking and misleading New Zealand Immigration, and the defence will argue all allegations are false.

Opening for the Crown, prosecutor Emma Ridell said the case was based on arrangements to bring 18 people from India into New Zealand by deception.

Stories were fabricated for the sake of large amounts of money in return for the promise of new lives in New Zealand for the complainants, she said.

The trial is expected to run for six weeks.