The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

Updated: Bulgarian charged as police seize 38kg of drugs worth €1.5m

Tuesday, 2 August 2022, 10:43 Last update: about 9 days ago

Updated at 13:57 with details of the man's arraignment

A man has been charged after police discovered around 38kg of drugs, with an estimated market value of €1.5 million, inside a van that had just arrived from Sicily.

28-year-old Bulgarian national Mustafa El Madhoun was arrested on Sunday after police had inspected the man's van upon its arrival from Pozzallo. Sniffer dogs indicated the presence of drugs concealed in addition to the sawdust which the van was supposed to be transporting. The drugs were found to have been concealed inside hidden compartments.

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He was arraigned in court on Tuesday, accused of importing cocaine, possession of cocaine, cannabis and heroin in circumstances denoting that it was not intended for his personal use.

El Madhoun told the court that he was a student and had no fixed address in Malta.

A plea of not guilty was entered by the defence, with lawyer Jose Herrera saying that the defendant would not be requesting bail at this stage, but reserved the right to do so at a later point in proceedings.

The man’s defence lawyers objected to a request for a freezing order, as it would affect all of the accused’s assets although it was clear that these could obviously not derive from the charges. It was also argued that the request was “not proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.”

The request was also not in conformity with the dispositions of the European Convention on Human Rights which deal with the right to property, argued Herrera.

Inspector Grech informed the court that the drugs discovered consisted of 29 kg of cannabis, 5 kg of cocaine and 4kg of heroin.

Herrera argued that the law was drafted in such a way that it rendered any accused person liable to be placed under freezing orders, even for offences to which they were irrelevant. This had also been held in recent decisions by the superior courts, he said.

The court, however, upheld the request for the freezing order.

Lawyers Jose Herrera, Shazoo Ghaznavi, Charlon Gouder, Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran are appearing for the defendant.

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