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'I came to be a nanny in Sliema, I ended up a slave'

Promised a wage, lodging and board - but Serbian Slavica Dakovic claims the reality was different

It was the lucky break 65-year-old Serb Slavica Dakovic had been hoping for: a decent job in a lovely Sliema home.

But court documents seen by The Sunday Times of Malta tell a different tale – one of psychological trauma, illegal work and a hurried escape from the country.

A criminal complaint filed in court by Ms Dakovic several months ago alleges that Anika Di Vilera, a Croatian woman with a chequered past including alleged fraud, duped the job-hungry Serb into flying down to Malta to work in her family home.

Slavica Dakovic, 65, says she was subjected to erratic, violent and alcohol-fuelled behaviour.Slavica Dakovic, 65, says she was subjected to erratic, violent and alcohol-fuelled behaviour.

She claims that Ms Di Vilera promised to provide her with the necessary work permits and decent working conditions as a nanny-cum-housekeeper upon her arrival in Malta.

But what followed instead was a two-month “nightmare”, locked indoors without the means to contact the outside world.

In a sworn affidavit, Mr Dakovic says it started last August when her son Pavel negotiated an attractive salary for her – €1,000 monthly, all costs covered – with Ms Di Vilera, at the time an employee of online betting company Betsson.

She says she was promised free lodging and food at Ms Di Vilera’s Sliema townhouse and had agreed to work there seven days a week.

However, when she arrived in Malta her work permits did not exist, she never received any payment and was ordered not to leave the premises or otherwise face being reported to the police for working illegally.

“I thought I was going to work legally for a respectable person,” she writes in her affidavit.

However, this was not to be. While living in Ms De Vilera’s home, she claims to have been subjected to erratic, violent and alcohol-fuelled behaviour.

This has been the most traumatic experience of my life

“That is when I began to understand that I was not here to be a nanny. The situation I was in was that of a prisoner, a slave,” her account reads.

She says she was repeatedly woken up in the middle of the night, made to clean and sew clothes and threatened with deportation if she did not comply.

“This has been the most traumatic experience of my life, even worse than the war I survived in Serbia,” her account continues.

To make matters worse, during her first week on the island she slipped and cracked her front tooth.

In great discomfort, she claims to have been denied medical treatment and went weeks before seeing a dentist.

Although she claims her host-turned-captor changed the lock and refused to give her a key – leaving her locked inside for days on end – she managed to get out of the house, thanks to one of Ms De Vilera’s friends.

It was not long before she got in touch with her son and then arranged to leave the country.

Contacted by The Sunday Times of Malta, Ms Dakovic’s lawyer, Joseph Mizzi, expressed surprise that no action had been taken by the police after the matter was brought to their attention several months ago.

“These allegations are very serious and should be treated as such,” he told this newspaper.

He said that while investigating officers had spoken to Ms De Vilera, they had not contacted his client and he questioned why there seemed to have been no progress on the matter.

The court documents, which are not available to the public, were brought to this newspaper’s attention on the back of these concerns.

Attempts to reach Ms Di Vilera proved unsuccessful by the time of writing.

A spokesman for Betsson confirmed that Ms De Vilera no longer worked for the company.

Meanwhile, the police denied that the investigation had hit a brick wall but declined to comment further. Investigations, they said, were ongoing.

A photo of Anika Di Vilera on <a href="http://www.anikadevilera.com">www.anikadevilera.com</a>.A photo of Anika Di Vilera on www.anikadevilera.com.

This is not the first time Ms Di Vilera has hit the local and international headlines.

Last year she was ordered by the Maltese courts to pay over €80,000 to a third party for a loan which she did not repay.

In the Croatian press, stories had last year alleged she was involved in the disappearance of funds from a children’s charity.

But it was a website, www.anikadevilera.com, which caught the country’s attention most.

“Anikadevilera.com was set up to limit her causing more damage anytime, anywhere,” the website’s homepage reads.

The website gives information on her identity, whereabouts, family ties and even alleged psychiatric history – backed up by German court documents. It narrates alleged cons she is said to have orchestrated on the island.

Many of the entries in the website describe how she allegedly falsified a life of glamour and wealth – using images of holidays she seemingly never took herself, luxurious furniture which was allegedly unpaid for, and snapshots of her on a yacht which the website claimed was chartered from one of the Maltese companies she defrauded.

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