BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Divisive internet personality Andrew Tate reiterated claims he was innocent on Wednesday ahead of a court hearing to rule on his appeal against extended detention pending a criminal investigation for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Tate, his brother Tristan and two Romanian female suspects have been in police custody since Dec. 29 pending an ongoing criminal investigation on charges of forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. They have denied the accusations.
In January, their detention was extended until Feb. 27, a decision which they appealed.
"You know I'm innocent," Tate told reporters as he was taken inside the courtroom. Asked whether he was hoping to be released on Wednesday, he said, "There is not much justice in Romania."
Prosecutors have said the Tate brothers recruited their victims by seducing them and falsely claiming to want a relationship or marriage.
The victims were then taken to properties on the outskirts of the capital, Bucharest, and coerced to produce pornographic content for social media sites that generated large financial gain, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors can ask the courts to extend the suspects' detention for up to 180 days.
The Tates have repeatedly said prosecutors did not have real evidence against them. Their defence lawyers have asked the judge to consider placing the suspects under house arrest rather than police detention, court documents showed.
In an earlier ruling, a court said the detention period had been extended to prevent the suspects from allegedly resuming illicit activities.
Andrew Tate gained mainstream notoriety for misogynistic remarks that got him banned from all major social media platforms, although his Twitter account was reinstated in November after Elon Musk acquired the social media giant.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie and Octav Ganea; Editing by Ben Dangerfield)