An owner of three massage parlours, employing a number of foreign women who offered sexual services to clients for €50 a session, was today charged in court with living off the proceeds of prostitution and running a brothel.
The court saw four witnesses – Alina Shcheblykina, 26, Tetiana Shapovalova, 41 and Yuliia Sosnik, 28, all from the Ukraine, and Tatiana Druta, 29, from Moldova – each of whom worked for the massage parlour owner, Fayton Falzon 30, from Pieta, tell the court the details of the work they did.
Earlier this morning, the four women were arraigned in court, charged with having participated in the undertakings of a brothel, frequented for prostitution purposes.
The court found them guilty and sentenced each of them to a year in prison, suspended for two years.
Falzon was then charged, with the women subsequently re-entering the court room one by one and giving testimony.
The court heard how the women worked in four establishments – Faithful Massage Parlour in Santa Venera, Body Kiss Massage in Pieta and The Queen Massage Parlour in Birkirkara.
Sosnik, the first to take the witness stand, told the court how she had been in Malta since around mid-July, living at the same residence as Shcheblykina, Falzon and his girlfriend in Pieta, and having come to he island to work at a massage salon.
She explained how she had heard about Falzon – who it emerged in court had already been previously tried in court on similar charges – through a third party, and subsequently travelled to Malta, where she worked at the Body Kiss salon, with each day lasting from 9am to 10pm.
“Each client would pay us €50. I used to keep €25 and give Fayton the other half,” she told the court, with the help of an interpreter. “We would also give Fayton a daily fee of €20, to cover condoms and other needs.”
Asked by Inspector John Spiteri, prosecuting, how Falzon would keep track of how many clients she had, Sosnik said that the brothel owner had CCTVs installed in the parlour rooms, through which he could monitor the men the women gave their services to.
Sosnik described how men would come in, undress, lay on the massage bed, get a massage, and, if they men so wanted, later have sexual intercourse with the masseuse. Each session lasted 30 minutes.
“The least number of clients I had in a day was five, the most, around 12,” she told the court, explaining that Falzon would provide the women with condoms, wet wipes and food, and would take them to the salon each morning and pick them up at night.
“All the working girls used protection,” she noted.
She said this was her second time coming to Malta to work for Falzon, with her having bought her own flight ticket.
“Falzon had explained what the work involved. He said it was a massage salon, but there would also be intimate stuff – either a blowjob, or sex,” she said. No matter what service was given, be it just a massage, or sex, the price remained €50, but some clients would offer tips to the women. “Very few clients wanted just a massage.”
Sosnik said she had a certificate for the Ukraine in massage therapy, but was never asked for it by Falzon.
Taking the witness stand after Sosnik, Shcheblykina confirmed she too lived with Falzon in Pieta, and said she worked at the Faithful salon. She had been in Malta before, working at Body Kiss.
“As far as I know he owns the salons and we pay him from our proceeds – we are paid €50 by the clients and give half of that to Fayton. We also gave him €20 a day for condoms and accommodation,” she said, corroborating what Sosnik said.
“When they ran out, we would WhatsApp Fayton asking for more ‘Snickers’, which is how we used to refer to condoms. I would often forget this, and just ask for ‘condoms’.”
“I would speak to clients in English,” she said, also aided by a translator, “But they all knew why they were there, so there wasn’t need for much talking.”
Next to take the witness stand was Shapovalova, the oldest of the four, who said she had come to work in Malta at Falzon’s salon because she needed money for a medical operation her daughter had to undergo.
“Some clients came for massages, some came for sex,” she told the court, “When I came to Malta I knew what I was coming for – you are not paid that type of money just for a massage.”
“I have a certificate in massaging in the Ukraine and even used to do massages to my daughter when she was sick. Nobody asked for any certificates in Malta.”
She said the number of clients she saw per day varied from around 8 to around 14, also confirming she charged €50 per client, with Falzon keeping half.
The last of the four to take the stand was Druta, who only arrived in Malta last week.
“In two days I earned around €175,” she said, affirming Falzon would know the number of clients they had through the cameras in the parlours.
“Some days I had three clients, others six,” Druta said.
A fifth woman, also from Moldova, also took the stand, saying she worked at The Queen parlour, and confirming what the previous witnesses had said. Unlike them, however, she hadn’t been charged with anything.
Following the testimonies, the defence argued that the women were earning hundreds of euro a day, and that this case highlighted the serious need for a change in the law with an aim to regulating such prostitution establishments.
The court subsequently granted Falzon bail, against a deposit of €800 and personal guarantee of €10,000, and prohibited him from leaving the island or approaching the witnesses. He was ordered to sign the bail book at the police station three times a week.
Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit presided.
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