Three women aged between 28 and 40 all pleaded guilty to running a brothel on Tuesday, saying they had only resorted to sex work to pay for the costs of COVID-19 quarantine.  

The women, all from Colombia, were given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for four years, and fined €250 each after admitting to running a brothel in St Julians and living off the earnings of prostitution. 

The court was told that the three women had come to Malta legally to study English.  

However, they had first got stuck in Turkey and were forced to quarantine there, and then had to go through a second quarantine on arrival in Malta a few weeks ago.  

It was because of these two costly quarantine periods that the women had resorted to advertising their services on online sex sites, the court was told. 

The prosecution, however, told duty magistrate Natasha Galea Scibberas that the police had been tipped off about a St Julian's apartment in which sexual services were being offered.  

Following a surveillance operation, officers entered the apartment and found one of the three women having sex with a client.  

On speaking to the client, the police learnt €80 had been paid for the services.

A search of the apartment resulted in a stash of sex toys and other related paraphernalia.  

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