Alleged human trafficking victim says she once offered sex for money

A woman who was allegedly forced into prostitution has testified that she used to offer sex for payment before she was offered a job by a hotel manager who operated sex sites and told her paid €70 for sex when they first met.

The South American woman testified via video link as proceedings began on Monday against three men and a woman accused of human trafficking after they were identified as those who forced the witness and her friend into prostitution while living off her earnings .

Roque Borg, a 51-year-old hotel manager from St Paul’s Bay, Sylvan Pace, a 48-year-old taxi driver from Għarb, Jorge Emilio Herrera Mendez, a 33-year-old Colombian hotel boy and Amira Khadraoui, a Nationals 27-year-old Maltese, all plead not guilty to various charges linking them to the Colombian and Venezuelan women who were their alleged victims.

One of these women, assisted by an interpreter, told at length how she had traveled to Malta in February “to have fun” and meet a friend called “Jason”.

After spending time in a quarantine hotel, she rented an apartment in Sliema with Jason, another South American woman and Emilio.

Being an ‘independent woman’, she and the other alleged victim then moved to another flat in St Paul’s Bay, splitting the rent between them while allowing Emilio to live with them since he claimed he did not have enough money. money to pay the rent.

It was Emilio who then introduced her to “Ricky”, her employer at the hotel, who was willing to offer her work.

“The first time he saw me, he paid me for sex”

“The first time he saw me, he paid me for sex. He gave me €70,” the woman said.

She explained that she previously worked as an escort, having a series of international clients who asked her to accompany them to particular events.

“I would accompany certain businessmen to Malta…not for sex. These are people I have been in contact with for years. I sometimes went to London, Spain… You can even check my passport,” the witness said.

However, during cross-examination by Borg’s lawyers, the witness testified that she first met ‘Ricky’ to do ‘a service’, implying that she was in prostitution before meeting the defendant. .

“I had been in prostitution but never advertised myself,” she explained, adding that just a week before meeting the defendant in her flat in St Paul’s Bay, she had set up her own page on SexoMalta.

If she was dating someone and he wanted to have sex, she would oblige “but only if he paid”.

Then she met Ricky.

60 € per half hour of “basic” sex

Emilio had told her beforehand that Borg could offer her a job as a prostitute and so when the two met at her flat in St Paul’s Bay, they first sat down at the table and worked out the terms of their deal.

She was to have free accommodation and food while working every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., charging €60 for half an hour and double that amount for double the time.

Later, working hours were extended to midnight, the woman said, recalling how unlike the other alleged victim, she never had a day off and served five to seven customers in a day .

But she firmly laid down her work rules, insisting to Borg that she would only do “the essentials”, would not condone kissing, anal sex or sex without a condom.

“If I said no, I meant no,” she said.

Ricky agreed to her terms, although he sometimes expressed his displeasure and once the deal was done, he paid her €70 to have sex.

She then moved into an apartment rented by Ricky and, together with the other South American woman, settled down to work.

Reservations were taken by “Sylvan, the bald” and Khadraoui, whom the witness did not know by name but repeatedly called “King Kong”.

These two stood “guard” while the women worked.

Khadraoui and Borg reportedly set up a page advertising the services offered by prostitutes, while Pace and Khadraoui took bookings and relayed customer requests, using Google Translate to communicate with Spanish-speaking women.

Once a customer knocked on the door, she ushered them into the room, demanded payment, and immediately handed over the money to the “guards.”

Eventually, she began to “snatch” her half of the money before returning to the customer waiting for her, the witness explained.

She said she never ‘feared Ricky’ and had no problem with him, adding that he never threatened her with the gun he used to carry in his suitcase with him. documents and a telephone.

She did, however, recount an experience where Ricky demanded oral sex and when she refused, he grabbed her and pushed her head towards him, despite her difficulties.

He then put on a condom, had sex with her and again paid €70.

As for “the bald one,” Pace apparently didn’t like her and reacted aggressively whenever she said she was tired and refused to take on more clients.

Her relationship with “King Kong” was purely work-related but turned sour when the witness decided to quit and move out of the apartment.

Khadraoui reportedly tried to block her, taking her luggage and telling her she owed some €600.

When the alleged victim refused to hand over the money and moved anyway, a series of threatening messages followed.

“Disrespectful Dog”

“I’m serious. Blocking me doesn’t stop me from doing what I say…there are many ways…you can’t run,” the line of posts continues.

“You are a disrespectful dog,” read another message.

Asked about Emilio’s place in all this, the witness replied: “nothing”.

When questioned by Prosecuting Inspector Joseph Busuttil, the woman confirmed that it was Emilio who first introduced her to Ricky.

But the threatening messages filled her with fear.

“I even told them that I was going to call the police. I did not do it. I was afraid for my life. I didn’t want to get into trouble. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I was scared when I started receiving messages.

After lengthy testimony, the court, presided over by magistrate Astrid May Grima, granted a request from Borg’s lawyers, granting him bail against a bond of €5,000, a personal guarantee of €15,000, daily signing of the deposit booklet and a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The other three co-accused did not file bail applications.

The case continues.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri were Borg’s lawyers. Attorney Martin Fenech was Pace and Herrera Mendez’s attorney. Lawyer Martin Farrugia was Khadraoui’s lawyer. AG attorneys Darlene Grima and Ramon Bonett Sladden assisted the prosecution. Lawyers Lara Dimitrijevic and Stephanie Caruana appeared as civil parties.

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