The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

550kg cannabis seizure case continues in court, as prosecuting inspector testifies

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 16:20 Last update: about 2 months ago

The case regarding Malta’s largest cannabis bust continued to be heard before Magistrate Neville Camilleri today.

A Maltese man and two Italian nationals had been previously remanded in custody, after they pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking in connection with the seizure of 550kg of cannabis.

The three men charged are Rudolph Said, a 35-year-old man from Fgura, Angelo Penna, a 60-year-old from Catania, and Cristofaro Paratore, a 42-year-old from Catania.

ADVERTISEMENT

The inspector stressed that investigations are still ongoing. “Police over the past weeks began gathering intelligence regarding an Italian group who seem to be involved in drug trafficking,” he said.

The police had identified Rudolph Said, who the police suspected of doing a drug deal with the Italians.

One police sergeant, he said, informed him that an elderly man moved near the vehicle Said was driving, and threw a black bag into the white Peugeot car. The police decided to wait till Said returned and started his car before stopping him and conducting a search. The police found 18-20kg of suspected cannabis in the black bag, he said.

He then gave instructions for the elderly man who threw the black bag into the car, who turned out to be Penna, to be arrested.

Penna was subsequently searched, and a vehicle key was found on him. The police, the inspector said, proceeded to search the Portomaso garage for the vehicle. Another team was sent to find Paratore, who was in the area.

The police found a pickup van that the key belonged to, however as the police neared the vehicle, the inspector said, Penna began to fall ill, complaining about heart problems. He was checked up by a doctor.

The K9 unit was then brought on site, he said. When Penna saw the dogs, Penna collaborated and showed the police a hidden compartment in the van, containing cannabis.

In the mean time, he said, the other police unit went to Fgura with Paratore, after noting that he owned a property.

There were two Fiat Ducato’s inside, one blue and one white.

“Paratore explained that the blue one was his and the white one was belonged to Penna.”

The vehicles were taken to the police headquarters, he said.

Penna, the inspector said, told the police that the Portomaso van was his, and that the white van at the Police HQ contained more drugs, adding that Paratore had nothing to do with it.

The police found, in one of the vans at the police HQ, a carton box filled with cash.

Penna said that he did not know how much drugs were contained in the actual vehicles, as he was not the one to fill them up.

Paratore told the police that he occasionally helped Penna as Penna had medical problems, but stressed that he did not know what Penna did with any of the drugs.

Penna told police that Paratore was a friend. Asked about the Maltese person – Said, Penna told the police that he was instructed to put the bag in a parked white Peugeot that was left open.

Lawyers Roberto Montalto, Mario Mifsud, Franco Debono and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for the accused.

 

  • don't miss