By Constantinos Psillides
THE 44-year old Russian owner of a high-end brothel that looked like an ancient Greek palace was remanded by the Limassol District Court for six days, following a late night raid on Tuesday that ended with several arrests.
Thirteen women were among those arrested, along with two other men that acted as security guards. Initially, 18 women had been held, but according to the police five of them were employees and the rest seem to have engaged in sexual acts.
The brothel was masking as a luxury spa and wellness centre, according to the police. The establishment is located near the village of Palodia, in the Limassol district.
According to the police, at around 11pm on Tuesday, two undercover officers paid €50 euros each to gain access to the establishment’s facilities, such as spa treatments, massage and jacuzzi. Police said that the two men were told that if they wanted to have sex with one of the women there they should pay an additional €50. The officers then identified themselves and notified the Immigration Services, the Limassol Criminal Investigation Department and the Limassol Crime Prevention Unit to conduct a thorough search of the facility.
The search yielded a number of condoms, the sum of €1,885, a variety of electronic devices and a laptop. Police also found two grams of cannabis.
The women from Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Morocco were taken to the Limassol police headquarters.
According to their website, the spa centre “focused on providing relaxing services with the highest levels of customer satisfaction – we will do everything we can to meet your expectations.”
The spa centre was modelled after Greek-roman bath houses and the women working there were dressed in tunics, an option that was also available to the clients. The front of the spa centre was built to look like the Parthenon.
Laws governing prostitution in Cyprus are extremely complicated. While it is perfectly legal for a woman to work as a prostitute, she is forbidden from looking for clients, lest she is arrested for solicitation. When it comes to women working in cabarets or other establishments where prostitution takes place, the crime lies with forcing women to have sex with clients and the actual act of solicitation. Paying for sex is not a crime by Cyprus law.
A police source told the Cyprus Mail that women found working in these establishments are put in witness protection programmes, in exchange for testimony against the people that forced them to have sex. Once the trial is completed – more often than not, according to the source — the women are deported back to their country of origin.