Eight arraigned after raid on Sliema brothel

Six Colombian women cheered after they were handed a suspended prison sentence and told they would not be sent back to their home country in return for their testimony against their alleged pimps

Two Maltese men and six Colombian women have been charged with prostitution-related crimes after a police raid on a Sliema brothel on
Tuesday.

Police Vice Squad inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Roxanne Tabone charged Gzira residents Don Spagnol, 35, and Luke Farrugia, 31, with
living off the earnings of prostitution, operating a brothel and using a property for prostitution.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli heard the inspectors explain how the men had been arrested together with six young Colombian women after police raided the Sliema property and found the women naked and in the act of servicing clients. Spagnol had just left the premises and was apprehended outside.

Lawyer Giannella de Marco, appearing for the men, entered a not guilty plea and requested bail. Farrugia had a clean criminal record, she
said. The prosecution objected, citing vulnerable witnesses who were yet to testify.

Bail was denied due to the possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence. Shortly afterwards, Johana Bermudez Patino, 22, Yeiny Carolina Ayala Moncada, 23, Luisa Fernanda Villalba Monsalve, 20, Maria Valentina Sanchez Quiguanas, 18, Laura Cristina Loaiza Accredo, 21, and Daniela Cardona Carrillo, 26, were also arraigned this morning on the same charges.

Inspector Busuttil said that the bordello owners had transferred the lease onto the girls when they suspected that the police were closing in. “We won’t ask for the women’s deportation but for them to remain to give evidence against the accused,” he said, describing the case as being “on the borderline between a bordello and human trafficking." Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran pointed out that they had left a place of poverty and hunger to work in Malta. 

The women, some of them in tears and terrified, all pleaded guilty and were handed 12-month prison sentences, suspended for four years.

The girls hugged and cheered after the sitting when the translator explained to them that they would not be sent back to Colombia.

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