POSTED: 6:55 a.m. HST, Jul 27, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 7:35 a.m. HST, Jul 27, 2011
A jury is being chosen to start the trial of two brothers facing federal charges that they brought 44 Thai laborers to Hawaii and forced them to work.
The trial of Alec and Mike Sou was scheduled to begin Wednesday and last several weeks.
They each face up to 20 years in prison without parole if found guilty after they backed out of a plea deal last September that came with a five-year maximum sentence.
Prosecutors claim the Sous, who run the 3,000-acre Aloun Farms, recruited poor workers from rural Thailand in 2003, underpaid them and housed them in dirty metal containers.
The Sous’ attorneys say there was no forced labor, and the workers could have quit at any time.