A Maltese man wanted by police investigators in Italy was freed from arrest on Thursday after a court dismissed an application for his extradition.

The Magistrates’ Court found that documentation presented by the Italian authorities for his arrest was defective.

Paul Attard, a shipper, had been wanted in Italy for prosecution over his alleged involvement in illicit trafficking activities. He was arrested on the strength of a  European Arrest Warrant issued by the Giudice per gli Indagini Preliminari on May 2, 2019.

Mr Attard's defence counsel argued in court that the European Arrest Warrant  did not conform to the formalities laid down by an EU Council Framework Decision of 2002.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech observed that the Italian authorities had departed not only from EU law but also from the relative national legislation.

Mr Attard had been right to complain about the light-handed manner whereby the Italians had made their request to the Maltese state, the magistrate remarked, observing further that there had been discrepancies in data concerning the place where the alleged criminal activity took place.

Whereas the relative Schengen Information System Alert targeting Mr Attard had referred to “Catania and international waters,” the EAW indicated “various states, including Malta, Algeria and Egypt,” as the places of the alleged offence.

Moreover, the EAW had also wrongly cited provisions relating to homicide, the court observed, expressing doubt as to whether this had actually been “Depozitato in Cancelleria”(filed in the Italian Court).

The corrected version had simply replaced the page containing the wrong articles of law, whilst retaining the original date and official stamp of the warrant as originally filed on May 3, the court went on.

Faced with such defective documentation, in spite of the fact that the Italian authorities had twice been asked to rectify the situation, the court concluded that it could take no further cognizance of the extradition request, thereby ordering Mr Attard’s immediate release from custody.

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