A man with a fetish for feet who allegedly aroused himself sexually while video chatting with a 12-year old boy is facing trial for having defiled the boy and two underage girls five years ago.
Ahmad Ali Younes Ikbrah, now 32, was arraigned after one of the children’s parents filed a police report that triggered a coordinated operation by the vice squad and the cybercrime unit to track down the suspected sexual predator.
Inspector John Spiteri gave an overview of the investigations starting in 2018 when one of the girls said that she had received photos of a male sexual organ and messages on her social media profile.
A talk at school about such online abuse gave her the courage to open up to her mother and that was where it all started.
Cybercrime officers linked that report to two other similar reports received by a police.
The three reports bore similarities which placed investigators on the tracks of the suspect who was linked to various profiles, such as “Maltese Foot Models,” “Maltese_Feet” and “James James.”
Those profiles appeared to have been accessed from the suspect’s home and work addresses.
Boy was threatened
One of the victims, a 12-year old adopted boy, had once gone to his father, opening up about “some problem he had got into.”
Someone had reached out to the boy and invited him to video chat, then asked him to show him the soles of his feet, while the stranger masturbated.
After that first session, the boy felt uncomfortable and refused to get in touch with the stranger another time, but the man threatened to splash the minor’s image on Facebook.
That threat scared the boy who realized that the stranger had taken screenshots of the monitor during that session which showed him lifting his bare soles to the camera, while the caller’s genitals showed in a corner of the screen.
At the start of the trial without jurors, presided over by Mr Justice Aaaron Bugeja, AG lawyer Angele Vella gave a summary of the prosecution’s case and the accusations filed against the accused, who confirmed his not guilty plea.
The man stands accused of defiling the three minors, threats in respect of the boy and misuse of electronic communications equipment.
The accused would allegedly snared the unsuspecting children through different profiles and names on various social media platforms, occasionally also using female names.
After getting in touch with the 12-year old boy through social media, he invited him to video chat on Skype.
In that chat, the stranger first asked the boy to show him his soles.
While the unsuspecting boy complied, the man, whose face was not visible on the camera, started to masturbate, his sexual arousal visible to the boy.
When the boy refused to meet up for another session, the stranger threatened to publish the boy’s photos online.
The boy was so scared that he did not even want to tell his father.
And although he complied with the accused’s request for another session, the stranger eventually still uploaded a photo of the boy.
The second victim, a 13-year old girl, received a message and a photo of a male sexual organ.
She accepted the message only to take a screenshot and then blocked the sender.
The girl opened up about the indecent message after a talk at school about how to deal with online sexual abuse.
The suspect apparently believed that since his face never showed, he could get away with it.
But well-coordinated police activity led to the discovery of the suspect who used to engage in such online sessions, not only with the 12-year old boy, but also with other third parties, including adults and others living abroad.
Following his arrest, police discovered another chat on the accused’s mobile phone, the inspector said.
That Instagram chat, including an image of the male organ, was with a then-14 year old girl who suffered from a learning difficulty.
He first asked the girl to show him her feet, then sent an image of male genitalia and the girl answered with an emoji, her mother later explaining that it was her way of expressing herself.
The court ordered a ban on all names of the victims and their parents who are expected to testify at the trial.
AG lawyers Angele Vella and Danika Vella are prosecuting.
Lawyer Joseph Brincat is defence counsel.