Four convicted after vice squad raid on Gżira brothel

All four women were operating out of the same premises in Gżira

Four Colombian women have been sentenced and will be deported after they admitted in court to participating in the running of a brothel in Gżira.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea was told how the women, whose ages range from 19 to 29, had been arrested in a raid carried out by the police Vice Squad following a covert surveillance operation.

During the operation police observed that different men would regularly enter the flat in question and leave after spending between half an hour to an hour inside.

Police Inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Dorianne Tabone charged the women with offences under the White Slave Traffic (Suppression) Act, namely the keeping, managing or sharing the management of “a brothel or of any house, shop or other premises…which is or are, or is or are reputed to be resorted to for the purpose of prostitution or other immoral purposes” and with allowing the property to be used for those purposes.

The charges are punishable by a maximum two-year prison sentence and a fine of €465.87.

The court was told that some of the women had been in Malta for a month and others just two weeks. It is understood that foreign sex workers are regularly rotated out of the country to avoid lengthy prison sentences if caught, as well as to provide ‘variety’ to their clients.

Under interrogation, some of the women had not replied to any questions, while others claimed to be self-employed, charging their clients by the half hour or the hour. The women did not name any third parties who might be involved in the brothel’s operation, the prosecution said.

Inspector Tabone told the court that the women had all been operating out of the same premises in Gżira. When the property was raided, police officers noticed that two rooms were being used for sex work, and had seized a number of items related to sex work from there.

Inspector Busuttil told the court that if a fine was going to be imposed there was a potential problem, in that all of the cash in the women’s possession - a total of €1,951- had been seized and would be exhibited as evidence. 

The court agreed, observing that it could not release the seized cash, as it was considered to be the proceeds of crime. “Otherwise, the court would be complicit in money laundering,” noted the magistrate. 

The women all entered guilty pleas and were each sentenced to imprisonment for one year, suspended for four years, together with the payment of a €100 fine.

All four of the women explicitly renounced their right to appeal after being sentenced and will be deported in due course.

Lawyer Leontine Calleja represented the women as legal aid counsel.