A court has thrown out a breach of rights claim by convicted explosives importer Jomic Calleja Maatouk, currently still one of Europe’s most wanted fugitives.
The man was handed a five-year effective term of imprisonment last July, in a judgment handed down by a Magistrates’ Court, describing him as a “lethal weapon” ready to open “the gates of hell upon whoever he deemed an inconvenience to be eliminated”.
Calleja Maatouk appealed that decision and was out on bail pending final judgment.
However, soon after, Calleja and his wife went missing.
The couple were subsequently targeted by a European Arrest Warrant and placed on Europol’s list of most wanted fugitives.
While criminal proceedings against him were still pending before the Magistrates’ Courts, Calleja Maatouk had flagged a constitutional issue concerning the disclosure of information by the prosecution.
Police had pressed charges against him for allegedly importing explosives purchased on the dark web after obtaining intelligence pointing investigators in his direction.
When asked how that information had been obtained from the dark web, superintendent George Cremona had testified that “it was irrelevant”.
The presiding Magistrate agreed, pointing out that if that information was police intelligence, then the superintendent could not testify about it.
The accused’s lawyer asked for full disclosure, but the request was rejected.
A subsequent request for a constitutional reference was also turned down by the court in an “exhaustive and well reasoned” decree delivered by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech in March 2022 which concluded that the request was “frivolous and vexatious.”
That was when Calleja Maatouk filed separate constitutional proceedings claiming that the lack of full disclosure breached the accused’s fundamental rights.
The relative provision under the Criminal Court regulating disclosure did not provide “an independent mechanism”.
Rather than have the court decide whether a particular piece of information was intelligence or otherwise, the matter was placed in the hands of the police and the Attorney General who were interested parties in the proceedings.
Calleja Maatouk’s lawyer referred to the more “just and fair” procedure adopted under the US and Dutch systems when compared to the system adopted under Maltese law, arguing that the latter was defective.
There were “blatant loopholes” which resulted in a breach of the accused’s fundamental rights, argued lawyer Benjamin Valenzia.
Such lack of full disclosure meant that Calleja Maatouk could not provide a valid defence.
When delivering judgment on Monday, the First Hall, Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction observed that the issue which formed the subject matter of the case was “identical” to that which had been decreed upon by the Magistrates’ Court.
Yet, even though the Magistrate had concluded that the claim was “simply frivolous and vexatious”, Calleja Maatouk had proceeded with separate constitutional proceedings.
Citing case law on this matter, Mr Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey concluded that the applicant’s claim was null, declaring that the court would not pronounce itself on a matter that had already been declared “frivolous and vexatious” by another court.