By NICOLAE DUMITRACHE AND STEPHEN McGRATH Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A court in Romania’s capital Bucharest has rejected an appeal by the divisive social media personality Andrew Tate against asset seizures by prosecutors who are investigating him on charges of being part of an organized crime group and human trafficking, an official said Wednesday.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has 4.5 million followers on Twitter, was detained on Dec. 29. in Bucharest along with his brother Tristan and two Romanian women. On Tuesday, a court upheld a judge’s Dec. 30 move to extend their arrest from 24 hours to 30 days.
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In a separate hearing Wednesday at the Bucharest Tribunal, Tate lost an appeal that challenged assets seized by prosecutors, including properties and a fleet of luxury cars, said Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for Romanian anti-organized crime agency DIICOT.
The court “decided that the seizures are legal and (that) the goods remain at our disposal,” she told The Associated Press.
Prosecutors investigating the case have so far seized 15 luxury cars — 11 in December raids and four last week — at least seven of which are owned by the Tate brothers, and more than 10 properties and land owned by companies registered to them. Bolla said is not clear whether any assets seized since December were included in Wednesday’s appeal.
If prosecutors can prove the Tates gained money through human trafficking, Bolla said that the assets could be used to cover the expenses of the investigation and compensation for victims.
Before the court ruling Wednesday Constantin Gliga, one of the lawyers representing Tate, told the media that the asset seizures are disproportional to the charges.
DIICOT said it has identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and were sexually exploited by the members of the alleged crime group.
The agency said victims were lured by pretenses of love, and later intimidated, kept under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into performing in pornography that was intended to make money for their alleged persecutors.
Tate, a former professional kickboxer who has reportedly lived in Romania since 2017, was previously banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech.
McGrath contributed from Sighisoara, Romania.