Man accused of raping ex-girlfriend in 'ritual' while friend watched

The man is accused of forcing his ex-girlfriend to have sex with him in front of another man as part of 'some form of ritual'

A man has been remanded in custody after allegedly forcing his ex-girlfriend to have sex with him in front of another man, as part of what the police have described as a ‘some form of ritual.’

Bugibba resident Ogaga Epete, 26, from Nigeria, was arraigned before Magistrate Ian Farrugia by Inspector John Spiteri earlier today. Epete was charged with rape, committing a non-consensual sexual act, slight bodily harm and illegal arrest.

Epete, who told the court that he sold clothes for a living, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lawyer Martin Farrugia, assisting the accused, asked Inspector Spiteri to explain what had led to the man’s arrest.

The inspector took the witness stand, telling the court how the police had received a call from the alleged victim on 25 October, reporting that the day before, whilst at her residence, the accused had forced her to engage in sexual conduct against her will.

Also present during the alleged assault was another man, a son of one of the accused’s friends.

The woman had feared that violence would be used against her, inspector Spiteri said. The court was also told that the victim and the accused had previously been in a relationship.

“The victim said that during this strange episode, which had never happened before, Epete had told her to undress in front of the other person and that he wanted to engage in carnal connection as part of some form of ritual.”

An arrest warrant was issued and Epete was taken into custody.

Whilst under arrest Epete was taken to a health centre, from where he was referred to Mount Carmel. On Monday, the police were informed that Epete was well enough to release a statement and go to court.

Epete pleaded not guilty to the charges. Farrugia requested bail on his behalf.

The defence cited the presumption of innocence, arguing that the fact that the accused had a fixed address and that his identity was known, meant that there was no reasonable grounds to justify the man’s continued detention at this stage.

Prosecutor Angele Vella from the Office of the Attorney General retorted that it was “absolutely premature” for the man to be released on bail. This was because the victim had not yet testified, she said, adding that tampering with evidence would take place.  

Furthermore, the accused had “no ties to Malta whatsoever and had no family here.” The lawyer pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that a balance had to be achieved between the public interest and personal liberty.

“The prosecution vehemently objects to this request,” concluded the lawyer.

“We have always respected the presumption of innocence,” Inspector Spiteri added. “We are here today to understand whether the accused is in a position to provide guarantees.

Although a lot of evidence has already been collected, the victim’s evidence is very important,” said the police inspector. “The victim may also be tempted to drop the charges.”

Spiteri added that the accused had already attempted to contact the alleged victim from hospital, explaining that this showed that the risk of Epete attempting to obstruct the course of justice was real.

Magistrate Farrugia, noting the serious nature of charges and the fact that the most important witnesses were yet to testify, as well as the accused’s lack of ties to Malta, rejected the bail request. The court issued a protection order in favour of the alleged victim for the duration of the proceedings.