The Malta Independent 24 November 2017, Friday

Patrick Spiteri: European Arrest Warrant is not 'automatic detention', lawyer tells court

Gabriel Schembri Wednesday, 13 September 2017, 13:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Patrick Spiteri’s lawyer, Stefano Filletti today insisted in court that a European Arrest Warrant which brought his client before Maltese justice does not automatically lead to detention.

Disbarred lawyer Patrick Spiteri appeared before Magistrate Josette Demicoli, once again protesting his arrest and pleading to the court to release him on bail. Following charges of fraud and money laundering, Spiteri was remanded in custody and is currently residing in division 15 at the Corradino Correctional Facility. The former lawyer is being accused of money laundering which allegedly amounts to some €7 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

This morning, Spiteri’s lawyer reiterated the multiple reasons why he believes his client should be granted bail. His argument focused on the relevance and implications of a European Arrest Warrant.

“A European Arrest Warrant does not necessarily lead to imprisonment or detention. Therefore, the prosecution is wrong in assuming that such warrant automatically means detention. It assumed so without explaining a proper line of reasoning”, Filletti explained.

The lawyer argued that the prosecution is making fallacious arguments, insisting that a European Arrest Warrant is a simplified version of extradition and not an arrest. Quoting the law, Filletti said that a European Arrest Warrant is nothing but a judicial decision for the purpose of conducting criminal prosecution. This is why, he added, that the EAW falls under the extradition act, not the criminal code.

“The responsibility of the EAW stops the moment he appears before the local court of magistrates,” Filletti added.

He also mentioned the fact that when Patrick Spiteri left Malta, he was not on bail. Filletti argued that Patrick Spiteri was summoned to Malta not through an arrest warrant, but through a court summons. “Therefore, once he’s back in Malta appearing before the local court of magistrates, we are back to square one, to the point before the proceedings start.”

The court heard how, according to Filletti, his client was not given the opportunity to explain why he was out of the country and failed to appear in court. Another ‘fallacious argument’ by the prosecution, as laid out by Filletti, was that it is pointing out that Spiteri is asking for bail and thus assuming that he is under arrest. “This is not the way we determine the state of an accused. Bail, in this case, is the only option for him to get out of prison.”

“We strongly believe that the way the prosecution interpreted the law, it failed to properly justify the arrest.”

When he was remanded in custody, Spiteri was moved to division 15, which as explained in court in recent days, is nothing more than a solitary dormitory with no access to library or education centre. As argued in previous hearings by Stefano Filletti, Spiteri is suffering psychological trauma for being on his own in an underground division which should have been shut down following a recommendation by the Convention for the Prevention of Torture.

Filletti said that Spiteri’s story is quite like a sorry tale by Charles Dickens. “He is being sent from one place to another, from a division with loud music and inmates smoking, to a solitary section in a basement. It is unconceivable that in 2017, the authorities cannot provide for a decent place to detain people like Patrick Spiteri who has an illness which causes him physical pain. If we can’t fix this, then we barely moved away from the medieval times.”

The prosecution had recently suggested moving Spiteri to the forensic ward in Mount Carmel. Filletti said that the defence will object to this move as Patrick Spiteri is in a sane mental health and sending him to Mount Carmel is not a solution.

The case continues on 3 October. Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Abdilla is leading the prosecution.

 

  • don't miss