By Constantinos Psillides
The Limassol Criminal Court has found the 44-year-old Russian manager of the alleged high-end brothel ‘Aphrodite’s Temple’ in Palodia village, not guilty on all charges, due to lack of evidence.
The Russian man was charged with forcing women into prostitution, trafficking and operating a brothel.
The judge found that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was forcing women into prostitution. A 27-year-old Moroccan woman who testified against the 44-year-old was deemed to be an unreliable witness.
The alleged high-end brothel was situated on the outskirts of Palodia village and was raided by police on July 23 last year.
In all, 21 people were arrested, including the 17 girls working there and the manager. In the end, only 13 girls were remanded, along with the manager, while two security guards, a DJ, kitchen staff and a cleaning lady were released.
Police investigators then asked the girls to turn prosecution witnesses so that they could build a case against the 44-year-old. Police gathered their testimonies and then deported them back to their countries of origin, leaving only the Moroccan woman and a woman from Moldova behind to testify in court.
The court ruled that the statements from all the women were not conclusive. According to a statement issued by the Attorney-general’s office in October, only two women admitted to having sexual relations with clients of the establishment.
The defendant’s lawyer, Marios Georgiou, had told the court during the trial that the Moroccan woman had only started work there the day of the police raid.
Police had originally two prosecution witness but the Moldovan woman had a nervous breakdown once the proceedings started. She had threatened to kill herself if she wasn’t immediately sent back to her country.
She was seen by a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with extreme anxiety and suggested that she be deported.
The defendant’s lawyer had argued that his client was merely a driver and that he was being prosecuted due to the fact that he was of Roma descent.
At several points during the proceedings, Georgiou had requested that the case be thrown out because he would be forced to provide the court with names of politicians who visited the establishment.
The court deemed Georgiou’s accusations unsubstantiated.
Attorney-general Costas Clerides was asked in October why the 44-year-old was the only one on trial and explained that no evidence was found against any other person and that the defendant himself confessed to being the manager of the establishment.