An Australian man who allegedly trafficked his India-born wife and their two-month-old daughter from Sydney to India has appeared in court, facing charges of human trafficking, general dishonesty and document forgery.
Pardeep Lohan who was charged by the Australian Federal Police, faced the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday afternoon (5 December). The matter was adjourned until 19 December giving Lohan time to obtain legal representation.
He remains on bail, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Australian Federal Police Human trafficking team said they had received a tip-off from an anti-slavery Australian group in Sydney in May.
According to reports, Lohan had allegedly used coercion and threats to force his wife and Australia-born child to go to India in March this year.
The detectives allege that after the man and his wife arrived in India, the 27-year-old contacted Australia's Immigration Department and tried to get his wife's visa cancelled.
He is also accused of removing his daughter's passport so that she too would not return.
According to detectives, Lohan's wife was able to fly back to Australia in May before her visa was cancelled, but her child was unable to come with her.
She then contacted authorities upon her arrival and worked with the AFP Human Trafficking team to bring her child home, police said.
Both the alleged victims have returned to Australia and are being supported under the government's Support for Trafficked People programme.
"This is a reminder that forcing someone to leave Australia using coercion, threats of deception is an offence under our laws, and strict Commonwealth trafficking offences may apply," Detective Superintendent Dan Evans, coordinator of the AFP's Victim Based Crime Command said.
Lohan was arrested in November and charged with one count of trafficking persons, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years.
He is also facing a document forgery charge and general dishonesty charge, which carry five and 10-year sentences, respectively.