Slavery is sanctioned, encouraged, righteous under Islam. Respect it, you greasy Islamophobes.
Doctor allegedly kept slave with threats of acid and deportation to face death penalty
A Melbourne doctor and sweet shop owner allegedly forced an Iranian refugee to work 14 hours a day for nothing by threatening to dissolve his body in acid or have him deported to face the death penalty, a tribunal has heard.
Seyyed Ali Farshchi, who came to Australia from Iran more than a decade ago, was charged by Australian Federal Police in January under Commonwealth slavery laws and released on $200,000 bail over the forced labour allegations, which took place between 2015 and 2017.
Details of the accusations were outlined during a recent Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in which Dr Farshchi challenged restrictions that were placed on his medical registration after his arrest earlier this year.
Dr Farshchi strenuously denied the forced labour allegations to the tribunal.
The AFP alleges Dr Farshchi employed an Iranian refugee, given the pseudonym “X”, at a business run by him and his wife not linked to his work as a GP, Chinese medicine practitioner and chiropractor.
The business where the alleged slavery took place was not revealed in the VCAT decision. Company records show Dr Farshchi is the joint-owner of two Persian sweet shops in Lalor and Box Hill.
For three months, the tribunal was told, X worked without pay because Dr Farshchi told him he was in training and that was how Australian law worked.
He was eventually paid $10 an hour and promised help to get a visa and permanent residency, according to an AFP summary provided to the tribunal.
When X asked to be paid, however, Dr Farshchi allegedly threatened the man, saying he would “get members of the local Iranian community to put a bag over X’s head and throw him in the ocean”, adding “no one will know”.
“I have money, I have power, I have influence, I know people and I have connections in the Department of Immigration,” Dr Farshchi allegedly told the refugee.
X worked every day at the business, starting as early as 7am and working through to 9pm without breaks, the tribunal heard. Sometimes, he would stay until 4am.
When X threatened to quit, Dr Farshchi allegedly responded that he “had people in immigration” and would have X deported to Iran if he didn’t continue to work.
Dr Farshchi also claimed he knew people in the Iranian government and that following the deportation, he would tell authorities that X was now a Christian. X feared upon returning to Iran he would be accused of apostasy, a crime that carries the death penalty.
“X is terrified of Dr Farshchi and believes that eventually Dr Farshchi will destroy him,” the tribunal heard.
X would vomit from the stress of his work conditions, the AFP alleges, and the long hours would cause him to suffer leg and back pain. In response, Dr Farshchi would prescribe him strong medication to “get his power again” and keep working.
On one occasion, X took the opioid Suboxone at work, had a seizure, and collapsed.
When workmates called Dr Farshchi and asked what to do, he told them not call an ambulance, but to take X to Dr Farshchi’s office, the tribunal heard.
The workmates splashed water over X’s face and he revived. Dr Farshchi did not however see X or assess him.
When X confronted Dr Farshchi about not coming to see him, asking “didn’t you think I might die?”, Dr Farshchi responded that he would “put X’s body in the septic tank and dissolve it with acid”.
Dr Farshchi trained as a medical practitioner in Iran and practised in areas close to the Afghanistan border.
Following his arrival in Australia in 2006, he also completed studies as a Chinese medicine practitioner and as a chiropractor.
The Medical Board of Australia chose not to suspend Dr Farshchi’s registration, instead imposing “onerous” conditions that allowed him to continue practising under a very high level of supervision.
Dr Farshchi appealed the decision to VCAT, arguing the conditions were harsh, intrusive and impeded his ability to find employment.
In denying the appeal, VCAT Deputy President Heather Lambrick acknowledged the restrictions had the potential to devastate Dr Farshchi’s career but said there was a stronger public interest in patient well-being, confidence in the system and accountability.
“Until the criminal matters are resolved, serious questions may exist about whether Dr Farshchi is able to effect good medical care for those who are experiencing abuse and violence,” she said.
“Patients or clients may be concerned that Dr Farshchi may hold exploitative attitudes or have a willingness to engage in exploitative behaviour.”
Criminal lawyer Tony Hargreaves, for Dr Farshchi, declined to comment when contacted by The Age.
Dr Farshchi is due to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a committal hearing on February 18, 2019.
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