The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: Malta’s border control

Friday, 22 September 2023, 15:13 Last update: about 11 months ago

This week saw yet another case where a person facing court action may have been allowed to travel outside of the country, leading to questions on how Malta’s borders are being controlled if this is the case.

On Wednesday it emerged in court that one of the three youths accused of hijacking the tanker El Hiblu I, Koni Tiemoko Abdoul Khader, had ‘disappeared’ and had failed to sign his bail book for the last six weeks.

There are a number of questions to be asked on this.  The foremost one is how Khader’s disappearance only became apparent now – six weeks after the bail book is meant to be signed, when that same bail book was meant to be being signed three times a week.  It is very clear that someone within the Malta Police Force was not doing their job correctly and should have raised the alarm much, much earlier.

But another question is now on whether Khader has fled the country, and, if so, how that can be allowed to happen.

Being an island, there are very few ways that a person can leave the country without having to get extremely creative – so it begs belief how somebody who is out on bail and facing accusations relating to a hijacking (merits or otherwise of the charges put aside for a moment) could have potentially been allowed to leave the country freely.

This is not the first time this has happened either.  Just last month a man described as a ‘lethal weapon’ who was facing charges for trying to import lethal doses of radioactive material Polonium-210, highly toxic poison Ricin, killer drug Fentanyl and C-4 explosive off a darkweb marketplace also disappeared together with his partner.

Jomic Calleja Maatouk, much like Khader, did not sign his bail book for a number of days before police then realised that he had fled the country.  Calleja Maatouk has now been placed on Europol’s most wanted list and it is believed that they are likely in Serbia after fleeing by sea.

Last year, gaming consultant Iosif Galea was arrested in Italy after he was wanted in Germany and it then transpired that he was able to travel in and out of Malta with considerable ease considering that he was subject to two European Arrest Warrants at the time.

It begs belief that people accused of very serious crimes or subject to European Arrest Warrants appear to be able to travel in and out of the country at will and, seemingly, with ease and without anybody realising.

Reforms when it comes to this sector are needed: electronic tagging must be considered for these cases, while there must be much more supervision on who signs – and doesn’t sign – their bail book.  One must question how integrated police and border control systems in order for those who are not allowed to travel to be stopped at the borders are as well.

As things stand – even if Khader is in hiding somewhere in Malta and Gozo – Malta’s border control still appears to lack the ‘control’ part – something which is definitely a worry, even for national security’s and public safety’s sake.

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