A woman at the centre of a prostitution and human trafficking case admitted lying to the police about the accused out of fear that her daughter would be taken away, a court heard yesterday.

Pilaf Anisoara, a Romanian, allegedly made the admission in a phone call to her former boyfriend, Alexandru Onofrei, 26, while he was in jail under preventive custody.

Lawyer Giannella de Marco asked the court to order that a recording of the call be exhibited as evidence, claiming the lie was prompted by Ms Anisoara’s fear of losing her child. Magistrate Ian Farrugia upheld the request.

Mr Onofrei is pleading not guilty to trafficking Ms Anisoara and forcing her and another girlfriend, Mariaca Daresco, into prostitution, holding them against their will, living off the earnings of prostitution and running a brothel.

During yesterday’s sitting, Joseph Attard testified that he owned an apartment next door to his house in Kappara and had rented it to the two women.

He said he usually saw men entering and leaving the apartment at 20-minute intervals. “My wife kicked them out of the flat after two weeks,” he added.

He said he often saw the accused parking a white BMW and entering the apartment.

The owner of a maisonette in Qormi where the alleged prostitution is said to have taken place, Brian Sciberras, testified that he was renting the apartment to Mr Onofrei and another man and never had any complaints from neighbours.

During yesterday’s sitting, Dr de Marco also requested the police to summon the owner of taxi company Ecabs to testify on the number of trips his company had made driving the two women to various places around the island.

Magistrate Farrugia granted Mr Onofrei bail against a deposit of €10,000 and a €15,000 personal guarantee. He also ordered him to sign the bail book daily.

The case continues in January.

Police inspector Sylvana Briffa prosecuted while Dr de Marco and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for the accused.

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