The Malta Independent 11 November 2019, Monday

Case against drug kingpin’s girlfriend: Witness fined for spitting in court

Wednesday, 10 July 2019, 17:52 Last update: about 4 months ago

Two witnesses have testified about an alleged attempt at subornation by suspected drug kingpin Jordan Azzopardi's girlfriend on Wednesday, one of them earning himself a €300 fine after spitting in the courtroom.

Criminal proceedings continued against the mother-of-five, who had been dramatically re-arrested in court last month after a witness, testifying in the case against the woman and Azzopardi, had claimed that she had offered him €20,000 not to testify. 

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The surprise allegation ended up with the woman, who had been on bail, being rearrested in the courtroom.

Jonathan Mangion, a 'friend' of Azzopardi, his partner and the witness chose to testify after being cautioned by the Court, explaining how he had paid a €4,800 deposit on the purchase of a car from Luke Vella, just before the vehicle was seized by the police.

"Tell Jordan to give me €10,000 and I will give you €5,000 of them," Vella had allegedly told Mangion when he wanted his deposit back.

In June, Vella had testified in the drug trafficking compilation of evidence, telling the court that he had rented premises in Pietà to set up a B'n'B. However, while Vella was incarcerated, Azzopardi had allegedly taken over the premises and used them as a drug warehouse.

Vella had then increased his request to €20,000, Mangion told the court today, explaining that he had contacted Jordan's partner as he could not speak to Jordan, who was currently in custody, directly.

"Was it you who called the woman first?" asked defence lawyer Franco Debono.

"Yes. I made the first step to collect the €4,800 which I had paid to Luke earlier on," came the reply. "Obviously I couldn't speak to Jordan because he is in jail."

"Why didn't you question the fact that Luke was involving third parties?" Debono asked.

"I didn't tell him anything. All three of them were friends of mine," said the witness, adding that Vella had allegedly told him to tell Jordan to pay him €10,000 to stop his testimony.

But when Vella did not get the money, his relationship with Mangion deteriorated, explained the witness, claiming to have been insulted and threatened by Vella.

"I never spoke to Jordan," the witness insisted.

At that moment, Vella himself walked into the courtroom, making his way towards a  vacant seat before being told by the presiding magistrate that he had to wait outside before he could testify.

The young man spun around and, angrily, spat on the floor before walking out. When he eventually re-entered the courtroom to testify, the magistrate calmly called him out on what he had done.

"A while ago upon being asked to go outside, you spat on the floor, Mr Vella," Magistrate Doreen Clarke said.

From the witness stand, the man attempted to make an excuse, but the court was not done with him yet.

The magistrate minuted that his behaviour was deplorable and not permissible in a court of law, before fining Vella €300 for contempt of Court.

On the bribery allegations, Vella explained how third parties had asked him how much money he wanted to not testify, to which he had allegedly replied, "Tell him [Jordan] €100,000" knowing that the figure was would not be agreed upon.

The witness explained how Mangion had later called him and how he had been spoken to by Jordan's girlfriend.

"I have lots of recordings. I'll give you my mobile so you may check for yourself," the man told prosecuting Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca.

Debono confronted the witness with the fact that Jonathan Mangion had just testified that "you owed him some €4,000."

"No. He had paid the deposit and he took his money back," replied the witness.

"What about your offer not to testify?" asked Debono.

"Could be. I wanted the money for the Pietà apartment and I would still have testified nonetheless," Vella said.

In his bail submissions, Debono stressed that the accounts given by the two protagonists behind the alleged bribery, showed that the initiative was not one taken by the accused or her partner, Azzopardi.

"Each of today's witnesses, in his own way, confirmed that it had been Vella's initiative," argued Debono, emphasising that it made no sense for a person to record his own attempt at bribing a witness.

Inspector Mercieca objected to bail in view of the fact that civilian witnesses were still to testify.

The magistrate declared that she would issue a decree on the bail application from chambers.

The case continues.

Lawyer Amadeus Cachia was also defence counsel. Lawyer Anne-Marie Cutajar from the AG's Office also prosecuted.


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