Thousands of buses carrying refugees leave Poland every day. / sur

Man arrested for trying to bring teenage refugees from Ukraine to Malaga for prostitution

His behaviour towards the girls on the bus journey raised the suspicions of an NGO volunteer who notified the police

ÁLVARO FRÍAS / JUAN CANO Malaga

Every day buses leave Poland for different countries in Europe, carrying Ukrainian refugees who have fled their own country because of the Russian invasion. Many of these passengers are families, but police in Spain have just arrested one Ukrainian man who took advantage of the situation to bring two under-age girls to Malaga, where he intended to use them for prostitution.

The police began to investigate because the head of one of the NGOs working to help Ukrainian refugees was travelling on the same bus and became suspicious of the man’s behaviour. He was with two girls aged 15 and 16, and telling people they were sisters and he was their uncle, taking them to safety.

The NGO believed his behaviour towards them was not that of a man with two family members in his care, and decided to contact the police. They boarded the bus when it arrived in Madrid, and the suspect, the girls and several witnesses were then questioned by officers who specialise in combating people trafficking.

Claimed he was the girl's uncle

The man immediately became very upset and aggressive and attempted to punch one of the police officers, which led them to become even more suspicious of him. He insisted that he was the girls’ uncle and they were sisters, although they all had different surnames and he could provide no document to prove any family relationship with them.

The police then inspected the girls’ suitcase and found it contained skimpy clothing which was not suitable for this time of year, and a great many cosmetic products. The man’s case contained jewellery, 4,300 euros in cash and hashish.

Contradicting stories

At first the girls confirmed what the man had said about being sisters travelling with their uncle, but then there began to be contradictions in their answers to certain questions, such as the colour of their house in Ukraine. Finally they admitted that they were not related to each other or to the man they were travelling with.

The police discovered that one of the girls was in a relationship with the man and she had convinced the other girl to leave Ukraine with them, against the wishes of their parents who already had their suspicions about him.

It appears that he had intended to bring the girls to Malaga and had told them he would rent them an apartment there. The police arrested him on suspicion of people trafficking and child abduction. The girls are now being looked after by organisations that specialise in assisting victims of trafficking.