The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

6 women and 1 man charged with prostitution-related offences

Thursday, 19 September 2019, 15:30 Last update: about 27 days ago

Six women and one man have been charged with prostitution-related offences after police raided a chain of Chinese massage parlours across the island.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras heard Vice Squad Inspector John Spiteri explain how police had investigated complaints from a number of Mosta residents about a massage parlour in the town which might have been operating as a brothel. The investigation, which later expanded to cover other outlets in Fgura, Birkirkara and Paola, led to the arrests of five women thought to be working as prostitutes and the couple who employed them.

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CCTV footage from the shops, contraceptives and boxes containing bottles of baby oil seized from Belle Massage Parlours were brought to the courtroom.

First to be arraigned this morning were Carmelo Sammut, 65, from Zabbar and his Chinese wife Yanxia, 47. Inspector Spiteri told the court that the couple administered the four massage parlours and that Sammut's mobile phone contained CCTV footage of the brothels' entrance halls, from which clients could be identified. Sammut told the police that the cameras were there to "deter illegal activity," Spiteri said, but they also proved that he knew what was going on, he added. Permission for the destruction of the device and the footage it contained was requested, and obtained after the court was shown the footage.

The inspector said that women could be seen from the street, gyrating suggestively in the entrance to the parlour as early as 5pm.

The Sammuts were charged with living off the earnings of prostitution, running a brothel and allowing his premises to be used as a brothel.

The Maltese man and his wife stood, arms crossed in the dock, as their lawyer Joe Giglio entered guilty pleas. The court warned the accused that they faced up to two years imprisonment and a fine, but they did not change their pleas.

The accused had cooperated with the police, the court was told, the prosecution confirming that that both accused had a clean criminal record and were first time offenders.

Magistrate Galea Sciberras, in view of this, handed both accused a 2 year prison sentence, suspended for 4 years and a fine of €450 each.

Next to be called in were five Chinese women, ranging from 33 to 42 years of age. Lawyer Mark Mifsud Cutajar was appointed as legal aid to assist them as they could not afford a lawyer of their own choosing.

The inspector said the women had all been arrested on the various premises. The women, who entered Malta legally, were accused of participating in the running of a brothel and loitering for the purposes of prostitution.

Asked, via an interpreter, what they would be pleading, the women all replied that they were not guilty.

The defence did not request bail at this stage and the women were remanded in custody.

 


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