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MaltaToday 3 May 2023 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 3 MAY 2023 2 MATTHEW AGIUS A woman has been remanded in custody after being charged with falsely claiming to have been raped by a driver she had hired through a popular ride-hailing app. Police inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Andrew Agius Bonello charged 45-year-old Louise Chetcuti Vassallo of St. Paul's Bay, with having false- ly accused the man of a crime that she knew he had not com- mitted, taking a false oath and fabricating evidence. The woman is understood to have filed a police report, claiming she had been tak- en to a secluded part of Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, instead of to her home, and then raped by her Bolt driver. Tracking data gathered dur- ing the subsequent investiga- tion, revealed that she had not been taken there, but to Pem- broke. The police told the court that during the drive home, the de- fendant propositioned sex to the driver, who had agreed. The driver, who was arrested and questioned for 12 hours before being released without charge, explained to the police that while on the way to her destination, she had asked to be taken to Pembroke. Chetcuti Vassallo pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her lawyer, Jason Grima, asked for bail. The prosecu- tion objected to the request, as two civilians were yet to testify. One witness had been with the defendant at the place where they had been drinking before she left. The other witness is the Bolt driver whom she is ac- cused of falsely reporting. Inspector Busuttil pointed out to the fact that the driver spent 12 hours under unnec- essary arrest. "Although these offences don't carry big pun- ishments, the man could have been jailed for a long time had the woman been believed." The defendant's lawyer Ja- son Grima argued that the case was not a compilation of evi- dence. "It is serious, yes, but not enough to have a compilation of evidence." He pointed out that the defendant has a clean crim- inal record. "It is the inspector's subjective opinion. We are in- sisting that she did not make any false allegations," he said. He argued that Chetcuti Vas- sallo did not know the man and therefore there was no fear of her tracing him. Inspector Busuttil, however, pointed out that the app provides the name, surname and mobile number of the driver. "You have before you a married woman; her hus- band is here in court today to show his support, as is her fa- ther. She works as a company director and has a 16-year-old son," Grima submitted, argu- ing that there was no need to remand the woman in custody. The court, however, denied bail at this stage. THE first two of 10 jumbo-sized reverse vending machines for plastic beverage containers have gone live at Pembroke and Ħal Far, allowing consumers the conveni- ence of depositing their plastic bottles all at once instead of one by one. Located at Luxol's Park-and-Ride and at the BCRS Clearing Centre, these high-ca- pacity machines can store up to 9,000 con- tainers. BCRS is encouraging consumers or oper- ators with more than four bags to go dur- ing off-peak hours or else to use the jumbo machine, which has been temporarily lo- cated at the BCRS Clearing Centre in Ħal Far. "These jumbo machines will render the Beverage Container Refund Scheme more efficient, and the timing of their instal- lation will also cater for the expected in- crease in the number of plastic drinks con- tainers during summer," BCRS chairman Pierre Fava said. BCRS Malta will be installing further 28 new machines, including the 10 jumbo ma- chines, a €2.5 million capital spend, which will see the total number of machines spread across Malta and Gozo reach 348. Since the jumbo machines will only han- dle plastic (PET), single-feed reverse vend- ing machines operating 24/7 will also be set up alongside the jumbo machines to cater for glass bottles and cans. BCRS Malta CEO Edward Chetcuti ex- plained that the jumbo machines will be also manned by specialised personnel to guide consumers accordingly while re- maining operational seven days a week, between 6am and 10pm. "The jumbo PET Machines have a 'bas- ket' where several empty containers can be thrown in simultaneously. While the processing time is more or less the same as when depositing one by one, this time the machine does most of the work instead of the consumer." Chetcuti said that BRCS was enabling a fundamental shift in consumers' mentali- ty, and it was rewarding to see such a rapid adjustment to the scheme, where the con- sumer returns the container to get the 10c deposit back. To date, in just five months, more than 60 million beverage containers have been returned with 2,581 tons of plastic, glass and metal exported for recycling. "At the moment we are collecting 500,000 drinks containers a day, every day, which is quite remarkable for such a small island, and this is something we should all be proud of. Historically our country was recycling less than 20 per cent of beverage contain- ers, and currently it is about 70 per cent, which is a giant leap forward," Chetcutui said. The remaining jumbo machines will start to be rolled out across Malta and Gozo from the end of May as BCRS is currently processing the necessary permits. The only beverage containers accepted by the RVMs are: water (still, sparkling and flavoured), soft drinks, energy drinks, beers, ciders, dilutables, flavoured drinks with less than five per cent alcohol, and ready-to-drink coffee. The machines do not accept the fol- lowing containers: juices, dairy prod- ucts, wines, alcoholic spirits, cartons and pouches which should be returned for collection through the existing grey/green bag or glass collection schemes. Court denies bail to woman on false 'taxi rape' report charges Jumbo-sized BCRS machine allows deposit of all plastic bottles at once First two of 10 jumbo- sized reverse vending machines for plastic containers go live at Pembroke and Ħal Far The jumbo BCRS machine at Hal Far

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