Daniel Holmes, jailed for cannabis offences in 2011, was released on Thursday after serving a tough prison sentence that sparked controversy.
The Briton flew back to his homeland on Thursday after being released from Corradino prison. For years, many had considered his sentence as too tough with his family members claiming they had been "insulted, betrayed and persecuted" by the treatment.
Mr Holmes was fined €23,000 and served a 10-and-a-half year prison sentence after cultivating cannabis.The case was decided in 2011, and an appeals court confirmed the judgment in 2013.
The court found that even though the case took longer than “was strictly necessary”, the delay could not be deemed a breach of Mr Holmes’s right to a trial within a reasonable time.
But the legal battle is still on. A case filed in the European Court of Human Rights against Malta in 2015 is pending, attacking not only the lengthy proceedings but also what he believes is an excessive punishment.
Lawyers Franco Debono and Michela Spiteri, who got involved in the case after the appeal, had filed the ECHR application, claimed that their client’s grievances were not properly addressed by the Maltese courts.
Speaking to Times of Malta on Thursday, Dr Debono said that three years on, the case was still pending. He questioned whether this was reasonable, considering that the man had now served his sentence.
The 12-year ordeal
Mr Holmes was 28 when he was arrested in 2006 at his Gozo flat, where he was growing cannabis plants that he insisted were for his personal use.
The police said he was found with just over a kilogram of dried cannabis and 0.24 grams of cannabis resin, with a total value of €11,600.
Still, he was charged with the importation, cultivation, possession and sale of cannabis.
Mr Holmes tied the knot and exchanged vows with his partner Marzena during a ceremony at Corradino.
In 2016, he got to meet his second daughter, who was conceived during a rare private meeting with his wife at Corradino prison as part of a conjugal visits scheme.
But Mr Holmes could not meet his child until she was three months old, when Marzena took the child Blossom to visit her father for the first time.
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