The Malta Independent 17 February 2020, Monday

Hungarian couple arraigned over ‘family-run prostitution racket’

Thursday, 16 November 2017, 16:34 Last update: about 3 years ago

A Hungarian husband and wife were today accused of forcing two women into prostitution. The pair was remanded in custody and their assets have been frozen.

The couple, a 39-year-old man and his 34-year-old wife, was also charged with keeping a brothel, living off the earnings of prostitution and causing the victims to fear violence. One of the victims appears to be the wife's sister. Their names cannot be published in order to protect the identity of the minor.

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The prosecution, led by Inspectors Joseph Busuttil and John Spiteri, said this appeared to be a family-run prostitution racket managed from the couple's St Paul's Bay home.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia heard how the couple lived with their 14-year-old daughter, the wife's sister and another woman.

The wife would allegedly take bookings some 15 bookings over the phone, daily.

The prosecution also raised concerns over the daughter's welfare, insisting that she had been living in an unhealthy environment. The girl had only attended school on 15 days this year. They said there was a fear that the girl would also end up in prostitution.

The girl also had an unstable life since her parents had moved between Hungary, England, the Netherlands and Malta.

The court was told that the girl has been living in foster care since her parents' arrest.

The prosecution also pointed out that the couple had been investigated on similar offences abroad and some of their relatives were serving time abroad.

While the defence requested that the girl be sent back to her homeland, the prosecution said keeping her away from her family life could be a safer option, also given the fact that she could be called as a witness.

Legal aid lawyer Patrick Valentino pointed out that this would require her parents' consent.

The court declared that at this early stage and in view of the delicate nature of the case "it would not be conducive to the best administration of justice to send the girl away from the islands."

The couple did not request bail. The court said it would not block the parents from communicating with the child.

All of the couple's assets have been frozen.



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