Ibrahim Julani in June 2011.
Ibrahim Julani in June 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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A couple who employed a foreign worker under conditions of slavery were sentenced this morning by the Jerusalem District Court to four months of community service. The court also imposed a NIS 2,000 fine on the couple, and ordered them to pay NIS 15,000 to their former worker.

Ibrahim and Basma Julani of Shoafat, in north Jerusalem, were convicted in February of holding Filipina Mary Ann Paoig captive, in their home, for about two years. Basma had taken her passport and refused to return it to her, despite Paoig's requests.

The conviction, the first under a law enacted in 2006, is expected to pave the way for indicting others suspected of similar offenses. The state prosecutor's office already served three other such indictments since the Julanis were charged.

Judges Jacob Zaban, Miriam Mizrahi and Raphael Carmel said during sentencing that the crime was one of the most serious infractions of Israeli law they'd seen. However, they also said that because this was the first conviction based on the law, the penalty would be lenient. Prosecutors had asked the court to sentence the defendants to four years in prison.

In reading the sentence, the court noted that Paoig was kept in a bathroom, where a bed for her had been placed. She had no days off and was at her employers' beck and call, virtually around the clock. She received only $150 a month and was usually only allowed to leave the house with a member of the family.