Updated 1.55pm

A man found in possession of €16,000 in cash, over 10 kilos of cannabis and two kilos of cocaine was on Friday remanded in custody.

A court heard how the police kept a close eye on George Frendo, an unemployed 57-year-old Żurrieq resident, after receiving confidential information about the man’s possible involvement in a drug deal. 

The police zeroed in on Frendo on Wednesday when he was driving a vehicle in Luqa with two other men riding as passengers.

A search of the vehicle yielded some €16,000 in cash tucked away inside the glove compartment. 

Frendo gave no explanation for all that cash, said prosecuting Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca. 

When he was told that the police were going to search his residence, the man complained that he was feeling unwell and was accompanied to the hospital. 

The next day, the man’s residence was searched in his presence.

The police found bags of cannabis inside a bedroom and also inside a room at the roof level. 

Another bag containing cocaine was discovered behind a pile of dirty laundry. 

On Friday, Frendo was charged with possession of cannabis and cocaine under circumstances denoting that the drugs were not solely for personal use, allegedly breaching three previous bail decrees and also with relapsing. 

He pleaded not guilty. 

A request for bail was objected to in light of the large amounts of drugs involved, destined for trafficking on the streets. 

Moreover, police investigations were still ongoing and the accused was not trustworthy, added the prosecutor, highlighting the man’s previous three bail decrees. 

There were also civilian witnesses, including the men who were with him inside his car, who were as yet to testify. 

The defence countered that the charges related to aggravated possession, not importation or criminal association. 

Moreover, the gravity of the offence alone was not sufficient ground to deny bail, argued lawyer Jacob Magri, citing a recent decree by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera.

The court was to decide upon bail in an objective manner, argued the lawyer citing caselaw to support his arguments. 

After hearing submissions the court, presided over by Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, turned down the request in light of the gravity of the crime, the fact that civilians were still to testify and the accused’s unruly character. 

Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca prosecuted.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are defence counsel. 

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