The Malta Independent 19 October 2019, Saturday

Two coach drivers deny engaging in sexual activities with an underage girl

Tuesday, 17 September 2019, 17:16 Last update: about 2 months ago

Two coach drivers have denied charges of having engaged in sexual activities with an underage girl whom they allegedly used to drive to school. 

Magistrate Neville Camilleri heard how Indian nationals Nidhin Eldhose, 32, and Sarath Babu Kongadan, 28, had befriended the minor on social media before the alleged incident came to light when the girl reportedly went to hospital. A police report was subsequently filed by the girl's parents.

ADVERTISEMENT

The two men were arraigned separately on Tuesday, both pleading not guilty to sex with an underage person, defilement of the minor as well as producing and possessing child pornography and misusing telecommunications technology. 

Defence lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace asked the court for bail during Eldhose's arraignment, arguing that so far there was no evidence other than the police report.

"We know nothing else. It is still too early to deny bail. It all depends on the testimony of the minor," suggested the lawyer.

However prosecuting inspectors John Spiteri and Joseph Xerri objected to the request in view of the nature and gravity of the charges as well as the fact that the man was a flight risk. There was no extradition treaty with the accused's country of origin, he explained.

The danger of the accused tampering with evidence was "clear and manifest," Inspector Spiteri said.

Magistrate Camilleri rejected the bail request, but urged the prosecution to summon its civilian witnesses at the first opportunity. 

No request for bail was made during the arraignment of the second accused, Kongadan, who was also remanded in custody. 

The court rejected a defence request for a ban on the publication of the names of the accused, but upheld one for the name of the child involved.

Lawyer Joseph Calleja appeared parte civile. 

  • don't miss