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Croatia: Grand Chamber hearing opens into allegation of forced prostitution

A Grand Chamber hearing has opened at the European Court of Human Rights  into an allegation that a Croatian woman was forced into prostitution.

The European court’s hearing in the case of S.M. v. Croatia (application no. 60561/14) began this morning.

The applicant, S.M., lodged a criminal complaint in September 2012, alleging that a man had forced her into prostitution over several months in mid-2011.

She alleged that the man, a former police officer, had driven her to meet clients, had made her give him half of the money she had earned from providing sexual services and had threatened her and punished her if she did not comply with his demands.

At the end of 2012 the man was indicted and the applicant was officially given the status of victim of human trafficking.

After an investigation, the man was brought to trial in 2013. However, he was acquitted of forcing the applicant into prostitution. The courts found the applicant’s testimony incoherent and unreliable.

They concluded that the prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence for a conviction, and that the applicant had given sexual services voluntarily.

An appeal by the State Attorney’s Office was dismissed in January 2014, while a constitutional complaint by the applicant was declared inadmissible in June of the same year.

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