Court upholds man's cab licence revocation over prostitution connection

The man was stripped of his cab driver license after he was convicted of living off the earnings of prostitution

A magistrate has upheld a decision to strip a cab driver of his licence after he was convicted of living off the earnings of prostitution, with the court ruling that the law gave Transport Malta no discretion on the matter.

In criminal proceedings held in 2018, Carmel Schembri had admitted to having lived off the earnings of prostitution by taking commissions from massage parlours. He had been handed a 14 month sentence suspended for two years together with a €1,500 fine. Schembri had been prosecuted after police investigated reports that foreign masseuses working in massage parlours he operated in Luqa, Ħamrun and St Paul’s Bay were offering sexual services.

Schembri contested Transport Malta’s subsequent decision to withdraw his driver’s tag, before the Administrative Review Tribunal.

The Tribunal, presided over by Magistrate Charmaine Galea, had heard how Schembri received a letter from Transport Malta in July 2021 informing him that his cab driver licence would not be renewed, in view of his 2018 conviction. Schembri had written to Transport Malta, to object to the decision but the authority replied that the decision was final.

Before the Tribunal Schembri had argued the decision was “unfair, unjust, unreasonable, based on irrelevant considerations and disproportionate,” claiming to have always served his clients and had avoided any trouble with the police in the three years since his conviction. Driving a cab was his only means of earning a living, he said.

Transport Malta argued that the relevant regulations stipulated that driver’s tags could not be issued to applicants convicted of specific crimes, including the ones to which Schembri had been convicted of.

The magistrate upheld the authority’s arguments and confirmed the decision to withdraw the tag, stating that Transport Malta’s hands were tied and that the law left no room for any discretion on Transport Malta’s part.