A suspected drug trafficker was remanded in custody on Saturday with a court set to decide whether to extradite him to Italy.
John Spiteri, 56, of Qrendi, was arraigned on Saturday afternoon on the back of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Italian authorities.
He is wanted in Catania, Sicily, to face charges of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and cannabis into Italy and Malta and for allegedly forming part of an organised crime group.
His arraignment was interrupted when it transpired that part of the EAW’s accompanying documents - two surveillance photos of Spiteri - had not been submitted in court.
The matter was raised by the accused’s defence.
After the prosecuting inspector fetched the photos from police headquarters, the case continued.
Spiteri did not give his consent to be extradited.
Requesting bail for his client, defence lawyer Franco Debono argued that while in Malta these charges carry a penalty of life in prison, in Italy they are 24 years for organised crime and 13 for drug trafficking - this should factor in when deciding on whether the accused ought to be given bail or not.
Debono also argued that after Times of Malta first reported on Spiteri’s alleged trafficking activity in December 2021, he could have fled the country then - however, he had not.
He also gave the court a long list of cases when people facing extradition requests had been given bail.
The prosecution argued that the court should exercise the utmost caution given that this case is one of organised crime.
“We are facing a situation - allegations - but a situation of different payers from Albania, Italy, Sicily, Bulgaria, and Malta,” said George Camilleri from the office of the Attorney General.
Spiteri was remanded in custody after a request for bail was denied by presiding magistrate Leonard Caruana.
The court will decide on his extradition in a sitting scheduled for June 20.
Spiteri was represented by lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb.
Inspector Mark Galea led the prosecution, assisted by lawyers George Camilleri and Elenia Maria Abela from the office of the Attorney General.
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