A United Arab Emirates Officer, Colonel Arif Mohamed Seed Mohamed Al-Ali, was acquitted this past Friday from charges of keeping an unpaid servant in his home. Elizabeth Cabitia Ballesteros accused Al-Ali of having her work long, unpaid hours cleaning, cooking and babysitting. In addition, she claimed that she was forced to sign a receipt that Al-Ali had paid her twelve monthly payments of $1,600 which she maintains was never actually received.
Judge Mary M. Lisi found numerous holes in Ballesteros’ complaint, ultimately ruling that her testimony “doesn’t have the ring of truth.” Al-Ali, his wife and five children, along with Ballesteros, moved to Rhode Island last year so he could study at the Naval U.S. War College in Newport, R.I. Despite the harsh preconception Al-Ali, an educated and wealthy man faced when confronted with accusations from a poor Filipina mother of three working as housemaid and nanny for him, Judge Lisi found the truth. Why would a successful, 30-year military man, just given an opportunity to study his practice in the U.S., an offer of only 47 issued worldwide, suddenly scam a woman who had worked for him and cared for his children for three years? Furthermore, after Ballesteros went missing, why would he telephone the police on her behalf, inevitably calling attention to himself?
Ivy O. Suriyopas, a lawyer from the New York City branch of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, is outraged with Lisi’s decision. She has plans to pursue a civil suit against Al-Ali and his wife Samah Alharmoodi, seeking $200 in damages for Ballesteros as a result of illegal trafficking. Although Al-Ali has returned to the U.A.E., he will be forced to return to face this nightmare in our courts yet again.