Three suspected drug-traffickers - one of the them an employee at the Libyan embassy - have been granted bail following their arraignment under arrest on Thursday.
Tristen Kyle Pisani, 25, of Tarxien, a technician, Annajar Osama Soleman, 40, of Għargħur, working at the Libyan embassy, and Boulqassim Khalleefah Aboulqassim Almigheerbi, 32, of Swieqi, unemployed, pleaded not guilty to their alleged involvement in a drug-trafficking conspiracy and to the possession of cocaine under circumstances which indicated that the drug was not for their personal use.
All three were further charged with money laundering activities, while Mr Pisani was separately charged with the possession of cannabis plant and resin, as well as with being a recidivist.
Inspector Justine Grech, handling the prosecution, explained how the arrests had come about after a tip-off about an underhand drug deal about to take place in Kirkop on Tuesday.
Officers converging upon the indicated site came across all three men seated inside a vehicle, later found to be registered in the name of the wife of one of the suspects.
The two Libyans were seated in front, while the Maltese man sat at the back.
A search of the vehicle yielded a bag containing some one and a half kilos of cocaine, while €63,000 in cash were found stacked under the passenger seat.
A request for bail was objected to by the prosecution on account of the gravity of the offences charged as well as the fact that the only civilian witness was the wife of Mr Soleman, who was the registered owner of the car and who had been granted police bail.
Moreover, as for Mr Soleman who had ties and business interests abroad, there was a possible risk that he might abscond.
However, Franco Debono promptly rebutted that the accused’s wife was neither a compellable nor a competent witness, since she could not be induced to testify. Besides, the amount of drug found was relatively minimal when compared to other recent drug hauls, which rendered rather insufficient the objection on the gravity of the offences.
Lawyer Roberto Montalto also pointed out that the prosecution’s case was based solely on the facts of the arrest which could not be altered in any way.
Lawyer Edward Gatt pointed out that his client had a wife and family in Malta, adding “rather than discuss the denial of bail we should be discussing the necessary conditions to ensure that our clients will turn up for their hearings in court”.
Upholding the arguments by the defence, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit granted bail to all three men.
Mr Pisani and Mr Soleman were ordered to pay each a deposit of €10,000 and a personal guarantee of €20,000, to sign the bail book on a daily basis and to observe a curfew between midnight and 6.00am.
Mr Almigheerbi was ordered to pay a deposit of €5,000, a personal guarantee of €25,000, to sign the bail book on a daily basis and to observe a curfew between 11pm and 7am.
The court finally imposed a freezing order on the assets of all three accused.
Dr Montalto was defence counsel to Mr Pisani.
Dr Gatt and Veronique Dalli were counsel to Mr Soleman.
Dr Debono and Marion Camilleri were counsel to Mr Almigheerbi.
Inspector Justine Grech prosecuted.