A crew member who emptied out a ship’s safe making off with over €100,000 in cash has been handed a suspended sentence and banned from entering all Schengen countries for five years. 

The theft took place in the night between May 9 and 10 when the bundles of cash in euros and US dollars went missing from the safe on board the vessel that was berthed at a Cospicua shipyard. 

Investigations led to the arrest of Adesh Sahye, a 33-year-old restaurant manager from Mauritius who was escorted to court on Friday, to face prosecution for the theft that was aggravated by means, amount, person, place and time. 

The sum stolen to the detriment of fellow crew members amounted to €103,739.15.

The arraignment got off to a false start after the defence raised a jurisdictional issue in light of the fact that the vessel flew a French flag and the relative provision of law under the Criminal Code left room for doubt.

However, the issue was ironed out after advice was sought from the Attorney General’s office.

Prosecuting Inspector Gabriel Kitcher explained that since the vessel was inside Maltese territorial waters, Maltese courts had jurisdiction irrespective of the vessel’s flag. 

The matter would have been different if the ship were a military vessel. 

After consulting legal aid lawyer, Josette Sultana, the accused registered an admission which he confirmed after being granted sufficient time to reconsider. 

The prosecution pointed out that the monies had been returned.

The accused had cleaned out the safe and booked a flight out of Malta, the court was told. 

When making submissions on punishment, the defence stressed the fact that all funds had been retrieved and the accused had collaborated all along. 

The prosecutor highlighted the amount stolen and the fact that the theft involved a break in, requesting the court to ban the accused from returning to Malta or any other country in Europe. 

After hearing submissions the court, presided over by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, declared the man guilty on admission and in light of the fact that all money had been retrieved, condemned him to a two-year jail term suspended for 4 years. 

The court also banned the accused from travelling to any Schengen territory over the next five years. 

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