STA, 19 February 2021 - Sergej Racman, a businessman suspected of masterminding a sex trafficking operation in a case known as Marina, has pleaded not guilty to charges of exploitation through prostitution.
The not-guilty plea was made at the Koper District Court on Friday, as Racman was put in the dock more than a year after his fellow suspects appeared before the court, having been on the run in Canada before he was extradited three months ago.
The prosecution claims Racman and his fellow defendants organised a massive prostitution ring at the Marina club in rural western Slovenia, using the proceeds to finance a number of businesses.
Over five years more than 400 women are believed to have been exploited for prostitution, with police estimating almost 150,000 men had visited the club during this period.
Proceeds of crime from the operation are estimated at EUR 21 million.
"Sergej Racman is charged with having committed a criminal act of abuse of prostitution as part of a criminal gang, for which a prison sentence of between one and twelve years is envisaged," prosecutor Maja Veber Šajn said.
She proposed to the court to take a repeated decision on the evidence that had been excluded from the file during the court appearances of the fellow suspects on the proposal of defence.
Racman's attorney Martina Žaucar Hrovatin opposed this and proposed that additional evidence be excluded, including evidence collected with covert police operations.
Mitja Jelenič, Racman's another legal representative, proposed that all alleged prostitutes in the case be heard and added that "we assess that this case just bursts with unlawfulness in the phase of evidence collection".
The trial date has not been set yet.