Romanian escort claims she was forced into prostitution

A Romanian escort who had raunchy photos of her uploaded on an escort website offering “a wide range of sexual services” in Malta yesterday claimed in court that she was threatened and coerced into prostitution.

File photo
File photo

The remark was made during the arraignment of 25-year-old Romanian Alexandru Onofrei this afternoon. Onofrei is pleading not guilty to living off the earnings of prostitution, to running a brothel, to trafficking his ex-girlfriend Pilaf Anisoara, and to prostituting and holding Pilaf Anisoara and Mariaca Daresco against their will.

Taking the witness stand, Pilaf Anisoara, told the court that on 28 August, she and her 15-year-old daughter had arrived in Malta, and started living at the accused’s home in Qormi. The witness also explained that she intended on staying in Malta for a couple of weeks and until her daughter could go to school in Italy.

Asked how she was supporting herself and her daughter, and how she intended to finance her daughter’s education, the witness said that she would “provide sexual services at an apartment in San Gwann”. 

The apartment, the court heard, contained one bedroom, a living room, one bathroom, and was allegedly used by Pilaf Anisoara and the accused's girlfriend Mariaca Daresco to provide "sexual services."

The Romanian escort said that clients used to phone her up after viewing her profile on – a website which offers escort services in Malta and provides quotes, times and options for various sexual services for potential clients.

“Alex [the accused] created this account. He uploaded pictures of me in my underwear, and in turn clients used to phone me and I used to offer sexual services,” she said while adding that the accused would then drive her to the apartment.

“I used to have sex with about three or four clients every time I went to the apartment in San Gwann. In exchange I used to earn €80 for half an hour and Alex used to take a 40% cut,” she said.

Testifying via video conference, Anisoara insisted that the accused had initially asked her to prostitute herself to make enough money, but upon telling the accused that she did not want to continue, she continued “against her will.” She also claimed that “Alex [the accused] coerced her, and threatened to beat her up if she ever tried leaving the country or reject any work”.

Moreover, the witness said that she was afraid of informing the police out of fear that her daughter would eventually find out that she had been prostituting herself.

Cross-examined by the defence, Anisoara told the court that despite allowing Alex, who was her former boyfriend, to take raunchy photos of her – which included her in underwear – she was unaware that these were uploaded on a website offering sexual services.

Pointing out that Anisoara had access to a mobile phone, as well as Maltese friends – which the court was told had included a man driving a vehicle with the number plate MEDINA – the defence and Magistrate Ian Farrugia, who four hours into the sitting appeared flustered, argued that the witness could have in fact sought help and police assistance, “despite her alleged fear of the accused”.

“You are saying that you were threatened by the accused, yet you are then saying that you have access to a mobile phone, and that you could leave the house. You had many occasions to run away or seek police help."

“Your story does not make sense. Is your story one big lie? You must decide: were you afraid of Alex or not?” the Magistrate said. The witness then told him that she did not escape out of fear that her daughter would find out that she was working as a prostitute.

Onofrei's girlfriend will be testifying on Thursday, and in the meantime, the accused has been remanded in custody.

Inspector Sylvana Briffa is leading the prosecution.