Nine women charged with prostitution in Marsa and Gzira

Nine women between the ages of 45 and 23 were charged with loitering for prostitution after police carried out raids in Marsa and Gzira.

Nine women, whose age ranges between 45 and 23 years old, were this afternoon charged with loitering for prostitution after police carried out patrols in Marsa and Gzira.

The court heard that on Sunday, between 8:30pm and midnight, police carried out several patrols in places notorious for prostitution. Upon arriving, the police warned the women to get off the streets, while most were found to be in possession of condoms and cash.

Despite the warnings, nine women – whom the police know to be prostitutes, the court heard – stayed on the streets and were subsequently arrested after they were seen loitering for prostitution.

In the first arraignment, Anne Maria Bonello, 39, of Valletta, was jailed for two months after she was found guilty of loitering in Marsa, and of breaching a probation order and relapsing.

Prosecuting inspector Joseph Busuttil told the court that on Sunday, Bonello – who has 47 previous convictions for loitering – was spotted loitering. An hour after police told her to leave, the accused was still there with a friend, and was consequently arrested.

In separate arraignments, Magistrate Charmaine Galea conditionally discharged Ritienne Cardona, 42, of Floriana, and Mary Louise Magro, 28, of Gzira, for six months after they were found guilty of loitering in Marsa and Gzira respectively.

The prosecution explained that on Sunday, at about 8:30pm police spotted Cardona loitering in Marsa and told her to go to her apartment. An hour later, police returned to find her still in Xatt il-Moll in Marsa, where she was arrested.

A search in the woman’s handbag yielded three packets of condoms and around €50 in cash. Moreover, the police found an empty room with a mattress and four candles in Cardona’s apartment.

Asked why she had been prostituting herself, Cardona said she did so to earn a living. Asked whether planned to stop, she retorted that “debts have to be paid”.

In the case of Marie-Louise Magro, the accused insisted that she no longer prostituted herself, while her lawyer, Franco Debono, insisted that his client was only walking down Testaferrata Street, and despite wearing a short blue dress, she was not indecently dressed or doing anything to attract men.

Notwithstanding the defence’s plea, the court found Magro guilty of the charges and conditionally discharged her for six months.

Similarly, Diane Celeste, 42, of Hamrun, was conditionally discharged for a year after admitting to loitering in Marsa and relapsing. Moreover, Josette Galea, 24, of Floriana was also found guilty of the charges, and was placed under a probation period for three years.

Standing before the court, 25-year-old April Farrugia, who has a nine-year-old child, admitted to loitering in Marsa, asked the court to help her enter a drug rehabilitation programme. The magistrate ordered that a pre-sentencing report be compiled and granted her bail against a personal guarantee of €3,000.

Meanwhile, Joyce Bugeja, 45, of San Gwann – who the court heard has been involved in prostitution for 23 years – was charged with loitering in Gzira after she was spotted sitting on a doorstep of an apartment block in Testaferrata Street. She was acquitted after the court ruled that there is insufficient evidence.

Similarly. Judith Bakoush, 23, of Valletta – who is pregnant – was also acquitted of loitering in Marsa due to lack of evidence, while Gianella Okeakpci, 26, of St Paul’s Bay was remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to loitering in Gzira, to resisting arrest, relapsing and to committing a crime during the operative period of a suspended sentence.

Inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Sylvana Briffa prosecuted.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Mario Camilleri and Renzo Porsella Flores were defence counsel.