Constitutional decision denies bail to jailed Luqa pimp

The man, who was jailed in 2012 for luring Eastern European girls into sex work and sell those who would refuse, is denied bail pending a decision on his Constitutional challenge to his conviction

A court has rejected a request for bail made by a Maltese man who was jailed in 2012 for luring Eastern European girls into sex work, pending the outcome of a Constitutional case he had filed.

Raymond Mifsud, 50, of Luqa had originally been sentenced to imprisonment for 11 years in 2012, after he was found guilty of a number of offences relating to running a brothel, including tricking or pressuring women into prostitution and living off the earnings of trafficked sex workers.

The first court had heard how Mifsud had locked up Eastern European women in his farmhouse and forced them to go to bed with a string of men.

According to the original sentence handed down by then Magistrate Giovanni Grixti, the sex trafficking ring had been disrupted after one Russian girl managed to make a desperate phone call to her mother in 2004.

The sex trafficking ring included a policeman on its payroll.

Mifsud would lure girls to Malta by offering them work at a restaurant, before imprisoning them inside a farmhouse where they would be forced to have sex with men who would pay €35 every time.

According to news reports from the time, if girls refused to work as prostitutes, Mifsud would offer them a job working in a strip club and, if they also refused that option, would sell them off to someone else for around €1,200 to “settle debts” that they had incurred in travelling to Malta.

Mifsud had been assisted by his Russian partner, Tatiana Alkina, who herself had previously been convicted of running a brothel. She claimed to have also been sold to a third party.

Mifsud's 11-year prison sentence had been reduced to four on appeal last February, after a number of extenuating factors were brought to the attention of the Court of Criminal Appeal. His defence team had then filed a Constitutional case in May, alleging a breach of his fundamental human rights and asking that Mifsud be released from detention until the case was decided.

In a ruling delivered this morning, Judge Mark Chetcuti, presiding over the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction, noted that Mifsud was asking to be released from a sentence of imprisonment that had been partially confirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

But the judge observed that there was no evidence of any grave or exceptional circumstances that would make the man's release, pending the outcome of his Constitutional proceedings, an urgent one.

He noted that the request in the application was based on allegations of breach of a fair hearing, an argument that there was a “reasonable belief in a mistaken fact” as well as discrimination in the charges of trafficking an adult for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The court was also being asked to include an objection to the manner in which his statement had been taken.

“These circumstances still need to be proven before this court. Till now, there are only allegations on the part of the applicant to the effect that these breaches led to his unjust conviction. The court has yet to examine these allegations in detail as the process is still at an early stage.”

Whilst it accepted the inclusion of the objection to the statement, the court turned down the request for Mifsud's release on bail.

Lawyers Tonio Azzopardi and Alfred Abela are counsel to Mifsud.

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