Two freed on bail in British '30-year slavery' case

Two freed on bail in British '30-year slavery' case
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland addresses the media outside New Scotland Yard in London on November 21, 2013, during a press meet concerning the rescue of three women believed to have been held as slaves for 30 years in a South London house.

LONDON - British police have released two suspects on bail after they were arrested in connection with the case of three traumatised women who allegedly spent 30 years as slaves, Scotland Yard said Friday.

A 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton who had apparently spent her entire life in servitude were rescued last month after calling a charity, police said.

Police arrested a man and a woman, both aged 67 and described as non-British nationals, at the house in south London on Thursday but the unnamed pair were later freed after questioning.

"Two people arrested on Thursday, 21 November, in connection with an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude have been bailed until a date in January pending further enquiries," a police statement said.

Police had earlier described it as one of the worst cases of its kind they had seen.

"We have never seen anything of this magnitude before," said Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, who leads Scotland Yard's Human Trafficking Unit.

"These women are highly traumatised, having been held in servitude for at least 30 years with no real exposure to the outside world, and, trying to find out exactly what has happened over three decades will understandably take some time," he told reporters.

Police said there was no evidence to suggest that the case involved sexual abuse.

Detectives said they did not know where the youngest woman was born, adding that the relationship between the three women was "part of an ongoing investigation and we are not willing to speculate".

"However, we believe that the 30-year-old woman had been in servitude all her life," a Scotland Yard statement said.

The women, who are now in an unspecified location, were rescued after the Irish woman "found the courage" to call the Freedom Charity on October 18 after it was featured in a television programme about domestic slavery, police said.

The charity usually deals with forced marriage and honour-based abuse but is also used to working with women who feel trapped in difficult situations.

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