Northern Ireland news

Man charged with human trafficking boasted he 'lives like a lord'

Rada, with an address at Salisbury Court in the city, is further accused of brothel keeping and acquiring criminal property

A ROMANIAN man charged with human trafficking and controlling prostitution allegedly boasted that he "lives like a lord" in Northern Ireland, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors also claimed Valentin Rada (34) was secretly recorded telling an associate that he disfigured a woman by beating her to a pulp.

He was arrested last week in Belfast following a two-year investigation into a suspected crime gang involved in the sexual exploitation of vulnerable females.

Rada, with an address at Salisbury Court in the city, is further accused of brothel keeping and acquiring criminal property. All of the charges are denied.

He was detained with another man on June 16 as part of a joint operation between the PSNI and Romanian authorities.

Nine other suspects were arrested during searches carried out at the same time in Romania.

Officers in that jurisdiction also seized £10,000 in cash, jewellery, cars, mobile phones, bank cards, ammunition and drugs.

As Rada applied for bail, Crown lawyer Mark Conlon said he is believed to have "seduced" his alleged victim and brought her from Bucharest to be put to work in the sex trade.

CCTV footage from the greater Belfast area and covert audio recordings form part of the case against him.

Opposing bail, counsel argued that the accused is considered to be a prominent member of a crime gang operating in both jurisdictions.

Defence barrister Sean Devine stressed how the alleged victim vehemently denies that her relationship with Rada involves any coercion.

He argued there was no evidence the woman ever required medical treatment, and questioned why there was no intervention earlier in the surveillance operation.

Adjourning the application to next month, Mr Justice Colton requested more information about the background to the case before taking any decision on bail.

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