Five women have appeared in court charged with controlling prostitution and running a brothel in Belfast.

The accused, all Romanians, are alleged to have based their operation in a city centre apartment.

A defence lawyer said they have now been left homeless due to their tenancy being terminated.

Appearing at Belfast Magistrates Court were Nicoleta Ardeleanu (25), Alina Butnariu (22), Bianca Dumitrescu (23), Viorica Flamand (26) and Luiza Hazaparu (19).

The women, all with an address in the city, were detained last month.

They are each charged with keeping or managing a brothel and controlling prostitution for gain on dates ranging between October last year and last month.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall agreed to adjourn proceedings for six weeks after being told charges against some of the suspects may change.

Paul McCann, defending, said the women could be allowed to stay on bail with friends in Dublin and said he had contacted gardai.

However, a PSNI officer objected because they might not return.

Voicing similar concerns, Judge Bagnall said: “I’m not going to vary bail to Dublin at this time.

“But I will give police the opportunity to make any further inquiries.”

The accused were remanded on continuing bail to return to court on July 19.