The owners of Marsa horse stables have allegedly been raking in more than €1,500 every month from each set of stables that in recent years were illegally converted to provide accommodation for scores of immigrants.
This morning the Planning Authority issued an Enforcement Order that affected 80 immigrants, some of whom managed to escape and others who were at work. The Police arrested about 50 of them who were illegally in the country as well as a Maltese woman who was allegedly offering prostitution services in the complex.
The complex of stables in Marsa’s Triq il-Ġerejja was known as “the horse hotel” and some of the owners of the 19 sets of stables, each set consisting of four stables, illegally converted them into accommodation for immigrants. At dawn this morning the immigrants were evicted from the area in an operation mounted by the Planning Authority and various Police sections.
The Planning Authority’s Chairperson, Johann Buttigieg, told TVM that after various reports and confirmation of the illegal conversion of the stables for accommodation purposes, on 1st July the Authority posted an Enforcement Order on the sites and informed the owners they had 16 days to revert the stables to their original use. He said that in recent days some of the owners had cooperated and complied but others had ignored the Order. He estimated that about 200 persons had been lodged there.
Just under 50 persons did not have documents
Buttigieg said that 225 beds had been found in all but at about 6 am only 80 persons were found because the others had already left for work and from among those found a number of arrests were made.
TVM is informed that just under 50 persons were arrested as they did not have the necessary documents to be in the country while some of the immigrants, as soon as they were aware of the presence of Police carrying out the Enforcement Order, escaped by leaping from two storeys and running away.
It is alleged that some of the residents were involved in drugs trafficking and among those arrested was a Maltese woman who was allegedly offering prostitution services and in fact a room was found in which it appears was dedicated for sexual purposes.
Owners were making €17,000 annually
Johann Buttigieg said that some owners were making €17,000 annually out of illegal renting. He said from what was heard the income was between €1,200 and €1,600 monthly.
He said that over the coming days officials will continue surveying the area and those immigrants legally in Malta will be given four days’ chance to remove their personal effects.
Buttigieg said it is obligatory that if they have the proper documentation they have a place of residency or otherwise they should go to an open centre.
At this stage it is not known whether the Police and other authorities, including the fiscal authorities, will be taking legal actions against the stable owners, one of whom commented to the media the immigrants were living in good conditions and possibly better conditions than enjoyed by some Maltese.
Jiddeskrivu dak li ġara llum bħala “assurd u krudili”