Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Malta: Rape of Tourist, 23, an Alert That Solo Travelers Should be Cautious of New Acquaintances

According to The Times of MaltaJoseph Magro, 55, of Qrendi, has been sentenced to five years in prison after just being found guilty of raping an Italian tourist, 23, on May 19, 2011. The crime took place after Magro befriended the woman while she was visiting the temples at Hagar Qim.

As the victim testified in court, she related how her assailant cultivated a conversation with her, saying that he regularly gave personal tours to tourists. Subsequently, he offered to show her the sights, including  the Blue Grotto and Dingh Cliffs.

Unfortunately, after showing her the local sights, he invited the young woman to a local bar where they drank wine, but then suggested that he pick up some typical Maltese food which they could eat at his nearby home. This should have been a clue that he had an ulterior motive.

COMMENT: Once the assailant successfully had her in his home, they continued to drink wine together. The time was 1500 hours.

Later, at roughly 1800 hours, she awoke in the man's bed and realized that she was  naked from the waist down.

By then, the victim estimated that they had drank at least three bottles of wine.

At this point, the victim realized that she was feeling very unsettled about the situation she found herself in and asked the man to take back to her hotel.

Although the man complied in her request to take her back to her hotel, he went to great lengths to emphasize that she should not tell anyone what had transpired between them.

After speaking to a member of the hotel staff, she was urged to report the incident to the Maltese police.

In testifying in court, the woman's assailant accurately related how they had met and his role in showing her the sights; however, his version of the events at his home was much, much different from her recollection, whereby the assailant stated that they had had consensual sex in his bed.

Expert witness Dr. Mario Scerri, based upon his experience, testified that it is likely that the woman's assailant may have drugged the victim with a drug comparable to Ecstacy, which served as a sexual stimulant and also subdued short-term memory. 

The defendant claimed that the victim wanted to have consensual sex and requested that he not use a condom, a strange request, given the victim's age.

Based upon the events which occurred in this case, the following is suggested to solo travelers:

1. Always drink in moderation;

2. Be appropriately cautions when dealing with new acquaintances;

3. Arrange for tour guides only through reputable hotels; and

4. Caution is suggested when invited to the home of someone you've just met.

Additionally, I would also like to caution our readers that there is considerable risk of tourists being too trusting of others.

In May 2008, an elderly couple [mid-70s] from California had planned to travel to Hungary by bus after leaving Rome, but while in the Italian capital, a 54-year-old Italian man treated them to cappuccinos at the Tiburtina station.

The man they encountered in the train station was a con-man who drugged the couple's coffee with drugs, so the criminal could rob them of their belongings.

Unfortunately, the trusting couple did realize that their coffee had been drugged.

Not only was the robbery of the couple filmed on surveillance cameras, but the husband, being in a dazed state, walked off the platform and onto the tracks where he was tragically killed. His widow was also hospitalized after she learned of her husband's fate.

Although the con-man was subsequently arrested, charged and convicted, it was hardly comforting to a devoted couple whose lives were shattered by greed and opportunism.