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Malta has another child sexual abuse case to come to terms with, this one involving a support worker who allegedly sexually abused four underage asylum seekers at an open centre.
Norman Bugeja, 57, was prosecuted after the girls, aged between 16 and 17, opened up to social workers at the open centre and filed a police report. According to prosecuting inspectors John Spiteri and Joseph Busuttil, Bugeja had entered into an intimate relationship with one of the girls, raping others and occasionally offering money.
The list of sordid charges against him include performing non-consensual sexual acts on minors, offending public morals in a public place and committing a crime that, as a public officer, he was duty bound to prevent.
Bugeja’s lawyers, Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela, requested bail, but this was shot down by the court after Inspector Spiteri argued that there was a strong risk of him tampering with evidence.
This is the latest case of child sex abuse in Malta in recent months. Other cases include a man who was found guilty of raping his nieces for over a decade since they were three and five, an artist who was found guilty of paying a young boy for oral sex and a prison guard charged with raping a juvenile inmate.
While some victims managed to at least obtain a taste of justice, others were not even that fortunate as they had only come forward after the crime was time-barred. Recent court cases include a young girl who was sexually abused for several years by a family friend and a 12-year-old who was sexually abused during a family outing on a boat. The latter case prompted Judge Giovanni Grixti to call for an end to time-barring for sexual offences against children, which would bring Malta up to speed with foreign legislations.