Bosnian Couple Arrested German Girl Held 'Like a Slave' for Eight Years

A Bosnian couple has been arrested for allegedly holding a German girl as a slave for eight years. The now 19-year-old was reportedly forced to eat animal feed, do heavy field work and may have been sexually abused. Neighbors tipped off police.

The house where the girl was allegedly held in northern Bosnia.
REUTERS

The house where the girl was allegedly held in northern Bosnia.


The Bosnian media have compared the crimes to scenes "from the worst American horror films." After eight years of being held as a slave and abused by a Bosnian couple, a German girl has been rescued from a remote village, Bosnian broadcaster FTV reported on Sunday. The couple has been arrested and the girl, now 19 years old, has been brought to safety.

The couple was taken into custody on May 17, but officials waited to announce the arrest until ensuring the victim's safety and questioning witnesses. The girl was rescued after villagers told authorities she was being abused, state prosecutor's office spokesman Admir Arnautovic told the Associated Press on Sunday.

The teen was "disoriented" when police found her and had visible injuries, Arnautovic said. "She now feels much better," he added, saying that the investigation is ongoing.

Bosnian authorities did not provide more information on the girl's identity, but her first name has been reported as Karla. The young woman is believed to have been brought to northern Bosnia eight years ago by her German mother, who was once married to the Bosnian man. The victim was held in the now 52-year-old man's house in the village of Karavlasi and denied an education and contact to the outside world until a neighbor recently notified authorities, a police spokesperson told FTV. The girl's mother allegedly still lives in the village and has denied accusations against the couple.

'Like a Slave'

Village residents told newspaper Dnevni Avaz that they had often heard the girl screaming and crying. They also alleged that she was sexually abused by a number of men, though the state prosecutor's office said there was no proof of this claim.

They did, however, confirm media reports that the girl was treated "like a slave." She was reportedly abused with knives and forced to do heavy field labor, never receiving medical care for her injuries.

Neighbors also said that the girl was forced to live in a barn and eat pig feed to keep from starving. Her stepfather also allegedly set dogs on her repeatedly. Neighbors also reported seeing the girl sadistically forced to pull a horse cart distances between 400 and 500 meters (1,300 to 1,600 feet) while being whipped for the apparent amusement of her tormentors.

Bosnian authorities said they have requested legal cooperation from Germany and Austria, where the suspects and their relatives had worked in the past.

The neighbor who reported the case to police tried to alert them years ago, but the couple hid the girl from authorities. When he recently managed to take a photograph of her, police took action again, finding her in a wooded area where she had been hidden by her stepfather.

kla -- with wire reports

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