In law, an affirmative defense to a civil lawsuit or criminal charge is a fact beyond those alleged by the plaintiff or prosecutor that, if proven by the defendant, mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct.
The affirmative defense offered up by a Muslim couple who pleaded guilty to charges of keeping slaves in their Texas home is likely new to the annals of western law. The couple, Hassan al-Homoud, 46, and his wife Zainab al-Hosani, 39, originally of Qatar, argued that the prophet Muhammad kept slaves and that punishing them is thus “Islamophobic.”
According to Al Jazeera America, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who presided over the trial, has agreed to deport them, although he had hoped to impose a harsher sentence, since the crime of engaging in forced labor is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But a plea agreement was reached after the “servants” — one from Bangladesh, the other from Indonesia — refused to testify against them.
Court documents showed that the two women were held in “virtual slavery,” living in a “rundown apartment with no furnishings, no linens, utensils, clothing, television, reading material or even toilet paper.”
Homoud pleaded guilty in December to visa fraud, and his wife pleaded guilty to knowledge of a felony and failure to report it.
As part of the plea arrangement, the couple also agreed to pay $60,000 in restitution to each of their victims.