The shocking secret of Tartu cellar slavery

Nils Niitra
, reporter
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Margus Ansu

Ragged and barely alive on leftovers, she was kept as slave in a Vaikne St, Tartu basement. Aged 51 today, she was constantly beaten while her invalidity pension and social benefits were grabbed by the owner. 

Had the crook and thief Kaido Mosen (47) not gotten caught with other crimes, the slavery would have remained a secret. Over the years, all saw it, battery including – his kids, his wife and friends and acquaintances. Before the latter, he did try to treat the slave nicer.

The first time the lady, let’s call her Lea, was interviewed was last April. «Are you willing to talk about your life and work at Kaido Mosen?» asked the investigator. «I am willing to talk about everything if I can get away from Kaido,» replied the woman.

The investigator promised her state paid accommodation there and then, but the victim was initially incredulous. «I only I can get away from there, then I am willing to speak. If I must go back to Vaikne Street, I can tell you nothing because I am afraid of Kaido. He would curse me and terrorise me.»

Terrible condition

Lea arrived at the human trafficking shelter last April. An employee described her as the worst condition «health wise and mentally I have ever seen. She had imbalance problems, and was visibly starved. /.../ Her hands and feet were swollen and dark purple. Her face as swollen and lips swollen and purple. Because of being in the cold, probably, for a long time. /.../ Her teeth were in an awful condition. Once at the dentist, 15 teeth had to be pulled out and the treatment is still underway.»

After nearly five years of slavery, the woman told the investigators her story – having ended up with Mr Mosen after her unmarried partner died and due to unpaid rent the landlord threw her out.

That very year, she quit drinking. Life was not easy. After troubled childhood, dwelling with an alcoholic.  With no-one to lean on, she moved to Mr Mosen as invited though unwilling.

Took her money

«Initially, I went to the bank with Kaido, withdrew the money and gave the cash to Kaido in the car. Now he goes and withdraws the money with my card.»

Over the years, Mr Mosen withdrew over €17,000. Using lea as a cover, he took a fast loan of €4,300 with car as guarantee. The man held all Lea’s documents.

According to Mr Mosen’s wife, the man was intentional about bringing Lea over to get her money. Likewise, he used other people too. And falsified their signatures.

Six basement months

Of her years as cash cow, household slave and free labour at a pub owned by slavemaster, half a year were spent living in the basement. Which she remembers as cold and dank. Having no mobile phone, she felt altogether forsaken.

At the initial interrogation, great was her relief. «Now, with the opportunity to leave – truly, there is a God,» said a thankful Lea, having been granted a temporary dwelling.

The unheated room

Towards the end, Lea lived in a room on second floor while heating in it was switched off. She slept under a thick blanket.

By the Mr Mosen weighing 135 kilograms, Lea was oftentimes beaten, pushed and ridiculed.  

Household work included cleaning the home, doing the dishes, piling up wood and heating the chimneys. Plus the work at the pub – peeling potatoes and helping the cook.

Out of guilt and a false sense of twisted gratitude, she never escaped though that could have been an option. The issue, also, was where. Having been threatened by owner to be hunted down wherever she’d go. Turns out, she and her former man had tried to leave Kaido’s orbit before, living in a house in the woods. But they were found out.

One witness actually lived at Mr Mosen’s place for a while. At times, seeing him kick the slave to works faster. Why did he not interfere? «It was not my home and I badly needed the place to stay for a while...»

Others also, aware of what was going on, chose to keep mum.

Mr Mosen the Benevolent

What sayeth the now imprisoned Mr Mosen? Talking to investigators, he said Lea lived in a heated basement with fridge, TV and radio till the room was renovated. Out of charity, Mr Mosen took in a homeless one whom he «occasionally upbraided but that was about everyday problems.»

The woman had been free, fed and he Mr Mosen pleaded not guilty. Even so, his verdict was human trafficking, as well as embezzlement, computer fraud, thievery, falsification of documents and the list goes on.  

In March, his sentence by Tartu County Court was four and half years behind bars. On top of that, he has to pay Lea back the €17,000 taken from her account, plus €17,000 to cheated enterprises. As non-patrimonial damage to Lea, he will have to pay €150,000.