Patrick Spiteri, a former lawyer extradited to Malta to face criminal proceedings on charges of fraud of some 7million euro, misappropriation of funds and falsification of documents, today told a court that he had been undergoing medical treatment in the UK and had not been trying to escape the hand of justice.
Taking the witness stand to testify on his application for bail, the disbarred lawyer explained how between 2008 and 2013, before his health problems, he had attended 80% of the sittings even though at the time he had been residing abroad. “When I failed to appear in the earlier sittings it was because I hadn't been notified. Other times I was abroad
“When I failed to appear in the earlier sittings it was because I hadn't been notified. Other times I was abroad on work and had advised the prosecution and judge Edwina Grima had always understood,” he insisted.
After undergoing medical tests in Malta and Italy, Dr Spiteri said he had finally sought treatment in the UK where throughout 2014 he spent most of his time at the Macmillan Cancer Centre. He was finally diagnosed as suffering from Behcet’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes neurological damage, genital, throat and mouth ulcers and skin lesions.
After confirmation of his diagnosis in January 2016, a temporary travel ban was issued upon recommendation by his UK specialists who feared that his medical condition could be aggravated by the trip.
The temporary travel ban was eventually converted into a permanent one and his extradition scheduled for February 2016 had to be put off owing to his very bad condition. He was returned to Wandsworth prison where he was kept until his extradition which eventually took place in May.
This morning, Dr Spiteri, walking on crutches, explained that Corradino was no place for people with health problems. Smoking aggravated his symptoms and yet, in prison, there were no non-smoking areas.
This was causing lesions to break out in various parts of his body and was giving him cramps through his left side all throughout the night.
Since this had resulted in a weakening of his left side, prison authorities had ordered him to use crutches without which he risked becoming “a health and safety problem.”
His skin lesions had to be treated with antiseptic cream and the prison environment, with cockroaches and poor sanitation, was an added risk to his condition.
Were he to be granted bail, he said he would temporarily take up residence with his elderly parents who were more than willing to take him in until his partner made all necessary arrangements to relocate to Malta with the couple's two young children.
His partner, Lorna Maltby, present for the hearing, next took the stand. She testified that Dr Spiteri needed care as well as the presence of his children who missed him terribly. “I will bring the children back to be with him. They can give him energy in his life,” the woman explained to
“I will bring the children back to be with him. They can give him energy in his life,” the woman explained to Magistrate Josette Demicoli presiding over the case.
Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Abdilla pointed out that contact with the police had been severed after the issue of the EAWs in 2014.
However, Dr Spiteri insisted that his address had always been known. “ That is where I was found,” he declared.
“For better of worse, everyone knows who Patrick Spiteri is,” observed lawyer Stefano Filletti when making submissions on behalf of his client. “But a difference must be made between perception and facts.”
Although his client gained notoriety over his alleged escape from justice, in reality he had not been missing and had not been found by chance. Moreover, leaving aside his bad medical condition, one had to remember that Dr Spiteri had a family and small children.
His client currently had no travel documents and security measures in Malta were very strict. This laid to rest any possibility that the arrested man could abscond from the island.
“Cannot the court find a suitable formula to grant bail?” the defence concluded, pointing out that the case was not a fast-tracked one.
“Should Dr Spiteri remain in prison while his case continued over a year or two?” Dr Filletti remarked.
A decree on the issue of bail is to be delivered by the court in chambers before the next sitting which is due to take place in ten days’ time.
Assistant Commissioner Ian Abdilla prosecuted.
Lawyer Stefano Filletti was defence counsel.
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