The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

Jordan Azzopardi case: Lawyers draw comparison with Cisse murder in bail submissions

Thursday, 16 January 2020, 16:56 Last update: about 2 months ago

Lawyers for alleged drug baron Jordan Azzopardi have made comparisons between his case and that concerning two former AFM soldiers accused of a racist murder in submissions on bail.

Jordan Azzopardi is facing prosecution over a raft of charges which include drug trafficking and aggravated possession of cocaine, heroin and cannabis, criminal conspiracy and circulation of fake banknotes.

Azzopardi is also accused of defrauding three shops in San Ġwann and Sliema, possession of an unlicensed weapon, threatening and injuring a third party as well as breaching bail.

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He is being charged together with his 31-year-old girlfriend - a mother-of-five, whose name the media has been prevented from publishing by the court in order to safeguard her young children.

Last October, fresh charges related to breaching money laundering laws as well as promoting an organisation with a view to committing criminal offences, were added to the charge sheet. 

This morning Azzopardi filed another requested for bail, having spent ten months in preventive custody.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono said nothing had changed in the six week period since the last sitting. "The time has come for bail."

Debono pointed to the case against Lorin Scicluna and Francesco Fenech, the two former soldiers accused of the Hal Far drive-by shooting that killed Ivorian migrant Lassana Cisse and wounded two other migrants. Scicluna and Fenech had been granted bail in December, a decision confirmed by the Criminal Court, pointing out that the charges in that case "were more serious."

But in the case against Azzopardi, the prosecution's objections to bail had become increasingly muted as the proceedings progressed, Debono said.

The law provided mechanisms to obtain a balance between safeguarding the rights of the accused and those of society at large by allowing the Court to impose adequate conditions of bail, added the lawyer. 

The court, presided over by magistrate Doreen Clarke, declared that it would issue a decree on bail from chambers.

This morning the court also heard forensic medical expert Dr. Mario Scerri testify about how he had examined a man who claimed to have been beaten by the alleged drug lord five days before the man's arrest in a separate drugs raid in Pieta'.

The doctor reported how the alleged victim had suffered a broken nose and had bruises around his eye as well as other injuries compatible with blunt trauma inflicted through beating.

Court-appointed expert Emanuel Sinagra also told the magistrate about chemical tests on several exhibits seized in the Pieta' raid, including foil, plastic bottles, straws and a black plastic container holding dilute hydrochloric acid.

The tests had returned positive for traces of cocaine on the foil and plastic. Tests on the acid had only resulted in "a jigsaw puzzle of the molecule" and could not ascertain the presence of cocaine. 

Another court expert, Keith Cutajar, who was appointed to analyse digital evidence from five mobile phones, six laptops and other items seized by police during the March raid, told the magistrate that the two iPhones were PIN-protected and that data could not be retrieved from them. The other phone, a Nokia, had a damaged motherboard, he said.

The case continues. 

Police Inspectors Mark Anthony Mercieca, Justine Grech and Nicholas Vella prosecuted. Lawyer Ann Marie Cutajar from the Office of the Attorney General assisted the prosecution. 

Lawyers Amadeus Cachia and Marion Camilleri were also defence counsel.


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