The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Maltese gun dealer acquitted of conspiracy charges

Friday, 22 December 2017, 16:25 Last update: about 3 years ago

A Rabat arms dealer has been cleared of conspiracy to export a large quantity of ammunition rounds to Libya.

The man in question, Michael Azzopardi, was however fined for failing to keep an updated inventory of ammunition and arms.

The issue began when Michael Azzopardi, 59, who owns the Rabat firearms store, received a call from a buyer who ordered 450 boxes of cartridges back in 2012.

The price was set at €8.65 per box, and the amount was paid in cash against the issuing of a VAT receipt

Payment was effected by Maltese national Mark Agius.

The dealer had made two withdrawals from the government arms depot and transported merchandise to a freight-forwarder who refused to handle shipping the ammunition.

Customs officials intervened when the consignment was being loaded at Tal-Handaq when another freight-forwarder was called in.

The court heard how the police had found some 107,525 Bornaghi cartridges inside pallets, cover loaded with energy drinks which were destined to go on the vessel Trivia I to Libya.

The dealer was accused of, among other things, participating in conspiracy to commit a crime, selling ammunition to someone who did not hold the proper license, storing more than the maximum amount of bullets.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera said that the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence that the accused knew that the merchandise was to be exported.

She noted that the export documents were in Mark Agius' name, and that the accused was not at the Qormi yard where the merchandise was being loaded.

There was also not enough evidence as to whether Agius, or the purchaser in Libya, held firearm licenses or not. The court also noted that the maximum bullet storage limit had increased since the accused was arraigned.

There was no evidence of a connection between the accused and the Arab buyer. The dealer was acquitted of charges, but was fined €1,164.69.for not keeping inventory as required by law.




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