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Man in court accused of human trafficking

A self-employed mechanic has been remanded into custody accused of human trafficking.

Alin Rotariu, 38, with an address at Larkstone Street in Belfast, was also charged with a string of offences including rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment and possession of a weapon when he appeared at the city's magistrates' court.

Rotariu, who appeared in the dock alongside a Romanian interpreter and prison guard, spoke only once during the brief hearing.

When asked by District Judge Fiona Bagnall if he understood the charges, alleged to have occurred between September 2015 and April 2017, he replied: "I know, I know."

Defence lawyer Jim Sheridan said his client was aware of but denied all of the charges, which he claimed resulted from a dispute with the alleged injured party.

Mr Sheridan said: "He certainly does not accept these charges."

The court was also told the defendant had told police after caution "none of the charges were true; that they were all lies".

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) constable said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

The officer also disclosed that the alleged victim was now in secure accommodation.

Throughout proceedings, Rotariu, who was dressed in a light grey tracksuit, stood with his hands clasped at his front.

No application for bail was made because efforts to find a suitable address were continuing.

Mr Sheridan added: "We do intend to make a bail application but not today."

Rotariu was remanded into custody and is expected to appear via video link on May 5.

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