A 12-year sentence handed out to two convicted sex traffickers has been annulled after a judged ruled that their rights to a fair hearing had been violated in the previous trial.
The Times of Malta reported how, on appeal, Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera ruled that the magistrate who first heard the case should have the allowed the defence to cross-examine witnesses, namely two victims.
Magistrate Joe Mifsud sentenced Hungarians Robert Attila Majlat, 41, and Attilane Majlat, 36, to 12 years in prison for trafficking two women.
One victim had shared a horrific story to the court. Purchased off her previous pimp by Majlat at 19, she was prostituted across Europe, passing off her daily earnings to Majlat.
She said the three of them first arrived in Malta around August 2016. They left after their landlord discovered what they were up to and returned to the country in September 2017.
At a point, she was taking roughly 15 clients every day. She claims that Majlat raped her, but he has been cleared of those charges. The victim detailed how she was stuck in the industry to continue taking care of her eight-month-old daughter.
Attilane, the victim claimed, would schedule appointments and handle payments. A second victim said she charged €100 an hour for her services.
Despite the testimonies, lawyers Noel Bianco and Jason Grima pounced on several administrative issues within the case.
First, they noted how the magistrate shot down their request to cross-examine the testimonies of the two men, insisting that UN conventions protect trafficking victims from repetitive testimony.
However, Scerri Herrera insisted that preventing the defence from challenging the main witness went against their rights.
The case will now be sent back to the lower courts.
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