AMERICAN SAMOA GARMENT FACTORY OWNER LEE PLEADS INNOCENT TO WORKER ABUSE

CHARGES

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (March 30, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The owner of an American Samoa garment factory has pleaded innocent to charges he held workers prisoner and forced them to work in inhumane conditions.

Kil-soo Lee of South Korea, owner and president of Daewoosa Samoa, appeared in a U.S. District Court in Honolulu on one count of involuntary servitude and one count of forced labor.

He was arrested last week in American Samoa, where he ran the factory before it was closed in January amid allegations of worker abuse.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says nearly 250 workers, many of them Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant workers, were forced to live in the Daewoosa compound and were housed 36 to a room with inadequate plumbing and meals.

The FBI says temperatures in the plant reached 40-degrees Celsius and that Mr. Lee deducted $200 a month from the workers' pay to live in wet, dirty and rat-infested rooms.

Mr. Lee has been ordered held without bail for a further hearing.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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