BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Controversial social media personality Andrew Tate appeared in a court in the Romanian capital on Tuesday to appeal a judge’s decision to extend his arrest for membership in an organized criminal group, human trafficking humans and rape at 30 days.
Tate, 36, a British-American citizen who has 4.4 million Twitter followers, was initially detained on December 29 for 24 hours along with his brother Tristan, who has been charged in the same case. Two Romanian women were also taken into custody.
All four immediately challenged the extension of arrest a judge granted to prosecutors on December 30. A document explaining the judge’s reasoning said that “the possibility that they evade investigations cannot be ignored” and that they could “leave Romania and settle in countries that do not allow extradition.
Tate arrived at the Bucharest Court of Appeal in handcuffs. Eugen Vidineac, a Romanian defense lawyer representing the Tate, told reporters after an early morning hearing that “all four defendants made statements” and “the lawyers’ pleas were fully heard”.
“The court must decide. We hope for a positive solution for our clients,” Vidineac said.
A decision on the appeal was expected later Tuesday, Vidineac told The Associated Press.
Romania’s organized crime agency DIICOT said after the raids in late December that it had identified six victims in the case who were subjected by the group to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and were sexually exploited by members of the group.
The agency said the victims were lured by pretenses of love and then intimidated, monitored and subjected to other controlling tactics to commit pornographic acts intended to reap substantial financial gain.
Prosecutors investigating the case have so far seized a total of 15 luxury cars – at least seven of which belong to the Tate brothers – and more than 10 properties or land belonging to companies registered with them, Ramona Bolla said. , spokesperson for DIICOT.
Bolla said that if prosecutors can prove that they made money from human trafficking, the property “will be taken by the state and (cover) the expenses of the investigation and the damage caused to the victims”.
If the court decides to uphold the extension of the arrest warrant on Tuesday, prosecutors could seek detention for up to 180 days. If the court cancels the extension, the defendants could be placed under house arrest or similar conditions, such as a ban on leaving Romania.
Since Tate’s arrest, a series of ambiguous messages have appeared on his Twitter account, each of them attracting media attention.
One, posted on Sunday and accompanied by a local report suggesting he or his brother has needed medical attention since being detained, reads: “The Matrix attacked me. But they misunderstand, you can’t kill an idea. Hard to kill.”
Another post, which appeared on Saturday, read: “Going to jail when guilty of a crime is the story of a criminal’s life…going to jail when completely innocent is the story of a hero.”
Tate, who has reportedly lived in Romania since 2017, has previously been banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech.