Romanian court keeps ex-kickboxer Andrew Tate in custody pending probe

A Bucharest court granted prosecutors' request to extend Andrew Tate's (third from left) detention to 30 days. PHOTO: AFP

BUCHAREST - A Romanian court ordered late on Tuesday that divisive Internet personality Andrew Tate, his brother and two other suspects remain in Romanian police custody for a full 30 days pending a criminal inquiry into alleged human trafficking.

Tate, his brother Tristan and two Romanian female suspects were detained by Romanian anti-organised crime prosecutors on Dec 29 on charges of forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit six women.

They have denied wrongdoing through their lawyers and challenged the 30-day arrest warrant.

On Tuesday, the Bucharest court of appeals said it rejected the challenge as “unfounded”.

“Prosecutors’ arguments were that they have evidence. Naturally, our arguments were that there isn’t evidence,” Ioan Gliga, one of the defence lawyers, told reporters.

The first court to issue the arrest warrant cited the risk that the suspects could evade justice by leaving Romania for countries with which Bucharest has no extradition treaty.

Prosecutors have said the Tate brothers recruited their victims by seducing them and falsely claiming to want a relationship.

The victims were then taken to properties on the outskirts of the capital Bucharest and through physical violence and mental intimidation were sexually exploited by being forced to produce pornographic content for social media sites that generated large financial gains, according to prosecutors.

They also said one of the brothers raped one of the victims last March, which is when the investigation started.

Prosecutors have seized 15 luxury vehicles and over 10 properties and homes belonging to the suspects in Bucharest and Prahova and Brasov counties, Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for Romania’s DIICOT anti-organised crime unit, told Reuters.

The seizure was meant to prevent the assets being sold or concealed.

Should prosecutors need more time to investigate, they can seek approval for further extensions of up to 180 days of detention under Romanian law.

Tate gained mainstream notoriety for misogynistic remarks and hate speech that got him banned from all major social media platforms, although his Twitter account was reinstated in November after Elon Musk acquired the social media giant.

The former professional kickboxer, who holds US and British nationality, has said women are partially responsible for being raped and that they belong to men. He is a self-professed misogynist.

On a podcast last year, he said he started making money by convincing multiple girlfriends to videochat and share the profits back when he lived in London.

“How can I use these women to make me money?“ Tate said, adding his business started with two girlfriends and peaked with 75 women working for him and earning US$600,000 (S$799,000) a month.

He has also said he moved to Romania after being investigated in Britain on charges of sexual assault, which were ultimately dropped, because he liked living in countries where corruption was accessible to everybody. REUTERS

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