A US judge has ordered the immediate deportation of a Qatari military officer and his Emirati wife after they were accused of holding two female servants in "slave-like conditions" in their upscale San Antonio home.
US District Judge Orlando Garcia said he had hoped to hand down a harsher sentence than deportation in the case, since engaging in forced labour is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Reuters reported.
But a plea agreement was offered to the couple because the servants - one from Bangladesh and the other from Indonesia - refused to testify against them.
In December, Hassan al-Homoud, 46, who received military training at San Antonio's Camp Bullis, pled guilty to visa fraud as part of the plea agreement, while his wife, 39-year-old Zainab al-Hosani, pled guilty to knowing that a felony was taking place and failing to report it.
They also agreed to pay $60,000 restitution to each of their victims.
The couple, who was arrested in June 2015 on charges of "engaging in forced labour", had withheld the wages of the two servants, confiscating their cell phones and passports, and giving them barely enough food to survive, according to prosecutors.
The servants told officials they had never been paid, and a federal affidavit said they were forced to live in a "run-down apartment with no furnishings, no linens, utensils, clothing, television, reading material or even toilet paper".
The US Attorney's office said Hosani had "threatened the workers with arrest and incarceration in Qatar if they failed to perform their work obligations".
In a statement read in court, Homoud said he took full responsibility for his actions.
"My conduct has brought shame upon myself, my lovely wife, upon my family and upon my country," he said.
Garcia said the couple would be immediately removed from the country and never allowed back.