A 47-year-old man was remanded in custody on Tuesday after pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl who was running an errand for her mum at a Mosta grocery store on Monday. 

A court heard Mufarrih Shah, from Pakistan, was employed illegally on a part-time basis at the shop. 

He allegedly approached the girl, first touching her chest and then also touching her private parts. 

The shocked girl described everything to her mother as soon as she went to the shop to find out what had kept the girl so long. 

Police were immediately alerted. 

The accused pleaded not guilty to a non-consensual sexual act, defilement, harassment, causing the victim fear of violence, as well as working without a permit in breach of immigration laws. 

A request for bail was objected to in view of the fact that the girl still has to testify. Besides, the man has been in Malta only for three months and has no ties in the country.  

The fear of absconding if granted bail was real at this stage, argued prosecution lawyer Darlene Grima. 

The defence countered that the accused had a fixed address and could bind himself not to go to Mosta. 

Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, turned down the request for bail. She also ordered a ban on the publication of the victim’s name. 

The accused’s lawyer pointed out that the accused had told him about some mental problems he faced.

The court recommended that upon admission to prison the accused would be medically examined and if appropriate, detained at Mount Carmel forensic unit

Inspectors Godwin Scerri and Kylie Borg also prosecuted. Lawyer Colin Galea was defence counsel.

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