Three Indian-origin men are facing criminal charges in the US for holding a 20-year-old student from India captive and repeatedly beating, starving, forcing him into labour for several months.
The victim, who was forced to work at three homes at St. Charles County in Missouri state, was rescued by police officers on Wednesday, County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph McCulloch said.
He is currently being treated at a hospital for multiple bone fractures, as well as lacerations and injuries covering his entire body.
McCulloch charged Venkatesh R. Sattaru (35), Sravanvarma Penumetcha (23), and Nikhil V. Penmatsa (27) with crimes related to abuse through forced labour, first-degree domestic assault, and kidnapping.
“It’s absolutely inhumane and unconscionable that one human being could treat another human being like this,” McCulloch said.
The main suspect in the case, Sattaru, was identified as a cousin of the victim and his visa sponsor. He has been additionally charged with human trafficking for the purpose of slavery and contributing to human trafficking through misuse of documentation.
The three defendants were accused of confining and abusing the victim at three different homes owned by Sattaru in Defiance, Dardenne Prairie and O’Fallon, starting April 2023.
McCulloch said the victim was forced to do menial tasks and perform remote work for Sattaru’s IT company, and he was frequently beaten.
“They beat him with their fists, they stomped on him, they beat him with electrical wiring, with PVC pipes,” McCulloch said, adding that the three suspects are wealthy and have political connections in India.
“They forced him to sleep in an unfinished basement, they starved him, and limited his access to the public and to restrooms,” he added.
Police were dispatched to investigate the home after a concerned citizen became aware of his situation and called 911.
“If you see something, say something. We would much rather check it out and find nothing, than have an incident like this that’s been going on for nearly a year,” McCulloch said.
The three suspects are being held at the St Charles County Jail without bond.