Seven women in Nicosia previously described by police as possible victims of trafficking have been arrested, with a judge ordering them in remanded custody for multiple offences related to prostitution.
Police placed the seven female suspects under arrest on Friday in connection with a brothel investigation in downtown Nicosia. Earlier this week, on Monday, law enforcement agents raided a downtown hostel where they arrested a 62-year-old hostel manager for prostitution-related offences, such as pimping, operating an unlawful brothel, making a living from earnings of prostitutes, and illegal gains.
The female suspects, all described as Asians aged between 32 and 47, were initially taken to a police station and treated as possible trafficking victims following the raid carried out by law enforcement agents from crime prevention, criminal investigation, and anti-trafficking.
But sources had told Knews that investigators never ruled out charges if the females were later found not to be victims.
Prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, while trafficking, pimping, and running a brothel are offences punishable by law.
The female suspects, all described as Asians aged between 32 and 47, were initially taken to a police station and treated as possible trafficking victims following the raid
After initial interviews, designed for special anti-trafficking officers to assess whether the women were victims of sex trafficking, police said they arrested the females on suspicion of committing multiple offences such as pimping, running an illegal brothel, making a living from earnings of prostitutes, and illegal gains.
A police statement did not specify which offences were related to the female suspects and which ones to the male suspect. But a press officer told Knews investigators were looking into a total of four offences for all eight suspects in the case.
The male suspect, described as the manager of local hostel, was remanded in custody for six days. During his hearing on Tuesday, it was revealed that he had told police officers he was renting out single rooms to the women.
According to criminal proceedings in the Republic of Cyprus, a judge can order the remand of a detained suspect if there is evidence that the suspect has committed an offence. Police say they have multiple witnesses as well as evidence in the case, after several items were confiscated during the raid.
Police said they were investigating multiple offences as well as claims made by the male suspect about paid lodging. Prosecutors told the judge that officers had found receipts in several rooms showing sums of money sent abroad, while other items found in the rooms were also confiscated as evidence.
Two men aged 81 and 32 had also been found on the premises during Monday’s raid. According to media sources, raiding officers found the two men in separate rooms lying naked on a bed. They were not detained but were questioned by police, according to sources.
Prosecutors allege that the lodging was being used as a brothel, saying customers included “monthly regulars” who paid for sexual services.
While sex work is protected by the Constitution, knowingly living off the earnings of someone else engaging in prostitution could land a man or a woman in prison for up to five years if convicted.
A recent legislation proposal soon to be debated in parliament aims to criminalize prostitution in the Republic of Cyprus.