March 26, 2008 / 1:36 PM / 10 years ago

Circus "slave" forced to swim with piranhas

ROME (Reuters) - Police rescued two teenage Bulgarian sisters from a circus in southern Italy which forced one of them to swim with flesh-eating piranhas for the amusement of guests, police said.

Piranhas swim in the sweet water aquarium in Mora Southern Portugal March 21, 2007. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

While the 19-year-old sister swam in a transparent tank, the younger, 16-year-old was forced into a container where the circus staff tossed snakes at her. She was injured by one of the snakes, police said.

Police arrested three Italians who ran the circus south of Naples, in Salerno province, accusing them of forcing the sisters to live in virtual slavery.

The women were paid 100 euros ($155.8) per week and lived in a trailer that had previously been used to transport animals, they said.

Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Caroline Drees

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