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Hungarian woman in court accused of human trafficking in Belfast

By Alan Erwin

Published 03/09/2015

A Hungarian woman appeared in court today accused of human trafficking in Belfast.

Andrea Keszthelyi, 38, was charged by detectives investigating alleged slave labour exploitation.

Her 39-year-old husband, Zoltan Raffael, has already been remanded into custody as part of the same inquiry.

Keszthelyi, a cleaner with an address at Stratheden Street in Belfast, is charged with three counts of forced or compulsory labour with intention to commit an offence of slavery.

She faces three more charges of acting as an unlicensed gang master and a further offence of acquiring criminal property, namely cash.

All of the alleged offences were committed between June 1 and July 19 this year.

The charges are connected to two women and a man police suspect were trafficked during the summer.

As Keszthelyi entered the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court a detective constable with the PSNI's human trafficking branch said she could connect her with the alleged offences.

Although no further details were given it was claimed during a previous hearing that wages were taken from workers in so-called debt-bondage over the arrangement of jobs.

Raffael, of Eia Street in Belfast, is accused of targeting members of his own family.

Five alleged victims have made complaints to detectives and been moved into safe house accommodation.

In court today Keszthelyi's lawyer, Lloyd McKeag of Reid Black Solicitors, put no questions to the detective.

But he succeeded in having a ban on his client speaking to her husband lifted.

District Judge George Conner removed the prohibition after police raised no objections.

Releasing Keszthelyi on continuing bail to return to court later this month, Mr Conner stressed she must not contact any alleged victims.

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