A suspected arms dealer, arrested three months ago for carrying an unlicensed and loaded pistol in his car boot, was fined for possession of the faulty weapon but cleared of relapsing. 

Aaron Cassar, 41, had been targeted by officers from the police major crimes unit following an anonymous tip-off about a suspected arms deal.

He was stopped at his hometown, Birżebbuġa, one May afternoon and his car was searched in a joint operation with members of the Rapid Intervention Unit.

An unlicensed weapon, loaded with two bullets and found inside the luggage boot, sparked criminal charges against Cassar who was subsequently arraigned, pleading not guilty to the unlawful possession of the firearm.

He was further charged with breaching bail conditions in separate proceedings, risking forfeiture of his personal freedom and a €20,000 personal guarantee, and with relapsing.

Cassar had been targeted four years ago as one of three suspect arsonists who had attempted to set fire to the home of Deniro Magri in Marsa in February 2017.

Magri had faced separate charges for allegedly firing at the suspect arsonists as they drove away from the scene, fatally wounding one of them.

When making submissions on the fresh charges linked to the unlicensed firearm, Cassar’s lawyer, David Gatt, stressed that the case centred upon an old, rusty and malfunctioning pistol. 

Yet the prosecution had countered that the pistol, though faulty, could still be fired and that in fact, Cassar had fired the weapon at a wooden pellet. 

A ballistics expert was subsequently summoned to testify, confirming that the weapon had a defective ejector spring mechanism. 

After hearing final submissions, the court, presided over by magistrate Victor George Axiak, delivered judgment, declaring the accused guilty of possessing the unlicensed weapon and fining him €700.

He was fined a further €500 for breaching bail conditions, but was acquitted of relapsing. 

Inspector Wayne Camilleri prosecuted. 

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