Monday, February 23, 2009

Madame Anoush: The trial of infamous Dubai pimp continues

[ 2009/02/23 | 19:01 ]
HETQ society
Ararat Davtyan

The trial of Anoush Martirosyan, an infamous pimp known in Armenia and Dubai for her sex trafficking activities, is continuing in Yerevan Criminal court, Judge Yeva Darbinyan presiding. For years on end Anoush has overseen the transfer, through fraud and deceit, of women of various ages from Armenia to the United Arab Emirates where they have been subject to sexual exploitation. Also implicated in the case are three other women, Sofya Martirosyan, Sonya Gabrielyan (both sisters of Anoush) and Mariam Martikyan. All have been charged with aiding and abetting the “Madame pimp” in her nefarious activities. (See: Madame Anoush: Infamous Pimp in Court Once Again)

During the trial session of February 12, witness K.G testified that at the house of Mariam Martikyan the following exchange took place between Mariam and Milena, an injured party in the case whose named had been changed. “At first Milena refused to go to Dubai arguing that she was scared. But Martikyan told her not to worry about a thing because she would be there to support her and that she would send to see a man who’d take care of all her problems.”

Once arriving in Dubai, Milena was taken under the wing by head pimp Anoush Martirosyan.

35 year-old Milena hails from the town of Kajaran. In 1991 she moved to Yerevan to study, specializing in the book trade. Later on, however, she turned to prostitution. In 2006, through her girlfriend Nora S., she met up with Mariam Martirosyan. Milena finally gave in to the extravagant promises made to her and agreed to ply her trade in that faraway mythic country of Dubai.

Martikyan sends the prostitutes Milena and Nora to Krasnodar where they are met by the brother of Gayaneh Ghaltakhchyan, another infamous Dubai pimp. They leave for Dubai on March 1, 2007.

“We were met at the airport by Gayaneh Ghaltakhchyan and Marieta Mouradyan. They took our passports right then and there. But Mariam Martikyan had told us in Yerevan that we’d keep our passports,” Milena had stated at the precious trial session. Milena also alleges that in Yerevan Martikyan had promised that no one would take the money they made from working. According to the agreement, the girls would only have to return the amounts paid for the visa and travel expenses and pay a $1,000 gratuity to the “boss”.

“Gayaneh took us to her house. The next day Anoush Martirosyan stopped by and said that she was splitting us up and that I’d have to work for her. They wanted 35,000 dirhams from each of us. I thought to myself that this was about $1,000, the amount of the gratuity that Martikyan spoke about. Then I found out that the 35,000 dirhams amounted to much more, about $10,000,” Milena continues and adds, “In essence they sold me to Anoush. I remember Marieta saying that she had no use for us and that she was handing us over to Anoush. Gayaneh would show up every week or ten days to collect the money and Anoush would always complain that work was very slow and that she had no money. But she was lying. According to my calculations, I gave her much more than her 35,000 dirham debt.”

She notes that later on, when she demanded that Gayaneh return her passport, Gayaneh stated that Anoush still owed her 6,000 dirhams and that she wouldn’t return the passport until the debt was paid.

“There were about 4-6 girls with Anoush. She intimidated all of them by calling in “Pochik Ali” (Ponytail Ali). Whenever a new girl was brought to the stable they’d call “Pochik Ali” to make a visit so that they’d recognize his face. If anyone was making problems they’d phone “Pochik Ali”. He’d go find the girl, take her out to the desert, have his way with her, beat her and then take her to the “boss”. With my own eyes I saw what they did to Jemma from Sisian,” recounts Milena. “I just had to hang my head and go to work, thinking that I’d soon pay off my debt so that I could tell them that I was leaving to work for myself. But no matter how much I worked I could never whittle down my debt. I was in tears every day. We slept for a few hours in the afternoon and worked the rest of the day. We were expected to turn 3-4 tricks every day. It wasn’t healthy, either physically or psychologically. Many a time I told Anoush that I wanted out, that I wanted to return. I would cry and beg her but she wouldn’t hear of it.”

After working for Anoush Martirosyan around three months Milena escaped. She says that she went to the local police several times but because she had no visa they neither deported nor arrested her.

In October, 2007, she final got her visa back from Gayaneh Ghaltakhchyan, with the help of her husband. (Milena claims that pimp Gayaneh’s Arab husband had no clue about his wife’s business affairs)

“When I was at last on my own I didn’t work all that much, maybe once or twice a week just to put bread on the table and to pay the rent. One day, I went to a hotel where drinking wasn’t allowed and started downing some beers. I lined up the empty bottles on the window shelf. Then I rang up the police who came and jailed me for two months. On May 4, 2008, I was deported from Dubai.

When Milena was asked by Anoush Martirosyan why she didn’t immediately return to Armenia after getting her passport back if, in fact, she was forced into the sex trade, Melina answered, “Because I had no money. It wasn’t only a question of a visa or plane ticket. I also had to pay a fine because I had stayed in Dubai without any visa for about one year. All this added up to more than a few pennies.”

In October, 2008, when Madame Anoush had already been arrested, Melina received a phone call from Gagik S. (who is involved in the trial as a witness). He asked her how much money it would take for her to withdraw her testimony against Anoush.

“I told him I’d think about it. I reported the incident to the investigator who told me to come up with any figure I wished. Afterwards I told Gagik I wanted to be paid $1,000 and we agreed that Anoush’s sister Sonya would approach me the next day at the “New York” cafe in downtown Yerevan.

As promised, Sonya Gabrielyan met Melina at the appointed rendezvous spot and handed her $1,500, telling her to use the extra $500 to pay off the investigator to delete her previous damning testimony.

“Sonya handed me a piece of paper alleging that I was loaned the money, if anyone asked,” adds Milena. “As soon as she handed me the cash the cops rushed in and took her away.”

As the other defendants in the case, Sonya Gabrielyan proclaims that she is innocent of all charges. Unlike the others however, she is not being detained during the trial. In her case, the court decided all she had to do was to sign a pledge not to abscond from sight.

The trial is expected to continue this week.

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