The main entrance to the mansion in Marbella where the women were held. :: JOSELE-LANZA
He was living with a dozen women who came from various countries in Europe and central Asia. They were coerced with threatening behaviour and forbidden to communicate with their own families. But this was not happening in a remote part of the world nor in a century long ago. It was happening in one of the most sought-after parts of Marbella and as recently as a month ago, when a complaint from one of the women initiated a police investigation and the intervention of the courts in Marbella which deal with violence against women.
The only person arrested as a result of the investigation is an Iranian man, Soha Sohai, who has been released on conditional bail while the case proceeds.
Apparently Sohai, who is aged 57, sought all the women out in a London university. He presented himself as an important businessman and began romantic relationships with each one of them. Once he had managed to persuade them to come to his villa in Marbella, with the promise of job opportunities there, this all changed. Most of the women are aged between 20 and 24, with the exception of Sohai’s wife who is 36 and also one of the complainants. The youngest woman was only 18 when she was ‘captured’.
The situation came to light on April 27th when one of the alleged victims, of German nationality, arrived at the police station in Marbella to report Sohai for physical and mental abuse.
The Iranian was living with the ten women in a palace situated in one of the most luxurious residential areas in Marbella and according to the police report, he controlled them with a regime of threats and coercion. The women’s children were used against them, friendships were forbidden as were the use of social networks. They were not allowed to leave the palace premises without telling Sohai where they were going, although they were not physically restrained.
When the police arrived at the palace, they found Sohai’s wife and the other women but also five children, aged between nine months and seven years old. Two of these were his wife’s and three were from the other women. It seems that one of these may have been registered in the name of a woman not his mother in order for her to get her residential status.
Eight women have made official complaints of abuse against the Iranian. Among the reported abuses, which include maltreatment of the children, is that a number of the group were forced to ask for money from their families which Sohai kept. Three of the women were responsible for paying for the household – two come from wealthy families and the third is a businesswoman.
Just three hours after being released from bail Sohai returned to the police to report that his property had been broken into and a collection of diamonds, works of art, Persian rugs and bronze statues worth 4,000 euros had been stolen.