Off-duty of­fi­cer ini­ti­ated po­lice re­sponse lead­ing to ar­rest of al­leged drug smug­glers

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

An ob­ser­vant po­lice con­sta­ble who was on hol­i­day ini­ti­ated the po­lice re­sponse which led to the ar­rest of a Mal­tese woman and two Nige­rian men who al­legedly tried to smug­gle 4kg of cannabis into Malta from Si­cily.

A po­lice con­sta­ble tes­ti­fied in court yes­ter­day that he was on hol­i­day in Si­cily when he saw a Toy­ota Vitz driven by a Mal­tese woman, car­ry­ing an African pas­sen­ger who was a per­son of in­ter­est.

Rita Sci­cluna, a 41-year-old woman from Luqa and 27-yearold Osaro Osarenkhoe, who re­sides in Si­cily, are on trial for con­spir­acy to smug­gle drugs to Malta.

The of­fi­cer told Mag­is­trate Neville Camil­leri that he saw the sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle in Poz­za­llo. He pro­ceeded to call up the CID and tip them off, given that Osaro was sus­pected of be­ing in­volved with drugs.

He saw Osaro take out hand lug­gage from the boot of the car and go on to the ferry on foot. The woman then drove onto the cata­ma­ran.

The court heard how Sci­cluna’s Nige­rian hus­band, Ni­cholas Obaseki, was wait­ing for them out­side the ferry ter­mi­nal in Malta, in a BMW with English num­ber­plates.

He told the court that both Sci­cluna and Osaro were known to the po­lice, who had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the drug prob­lem in Paceville for some time. He said that there is a no­to­ri­ous drugdeal­ing spot in St Ge­orge’s Bay.

The court was told by po­lice that there was a group of Libyan and African male deal­ers in their car who would reg­u­larly ap­proach tourists, of­fer­ing to sell drugs, while a fe­male would re­main in the ve­hi­cle.

A po­lice sergeant recog­nised the three ac­cused in court, and said that po­lice con­ducted searches on the men a num­ber of times, how­ever never found any­thing. He added that they sus­pected the drugs would be hid­den in the area.

He claimed that Obaseki is one of the ring­leaders.

Both Sci­cluna and Osaro were ar­rested when they landed in Malta, and so was the third man driv­ing the BMW.

A Drugs Squad of­fi­cer said that two plas­tic bags con­tain­ing cannabis were found in the en­gine com­part­ment of the ve­hi­cle driven by Sci­cluna.

While searches were be­ing made on Sci­cluna, the po­lice noted that her phone was ring­ing con­stantly, and that she was be­ing called by Obaseki.

A search of Sci­cluna’s res­i­dence, which she shared with Obaseki, re­sulted in a crusher and traces of drugs be­ing found.

Lawyers Al­bert Zer­afa and Josette Sul­tana, de­fend­ing Sci­cluna and Obaseki, said that they would not con­test a pos­si­ble de­cree which would de­clare suf­fi­cient prima fa­cie ev­i­dence for a bill of in­dict­ment.

Lawyers Franco De­bono and Amadeus Mus­cat how­ever, ap­pear­ing for Osaro, an­nounced that they would fight this de­ci­sion, and again re­quested bail, ar­gu­ing that his client’s charges were iden­ti­cal to Sci­cluna who was out on bail due to her child. They also ar­gued that no more civil­ian wit­nesses were to be heard.

Pros­e­cut­ing In­spec­tor Gabriel Mi­callef ar­gued that Osaro has no known address.

As for ar­gu­ments against prima fa­cie, Dr De­bono said that all the ev­i­dence pre­sented just proves that his client was at a place at a cer­tain time, adding that just be­cause the ac­cused spoke to some­one car­ry­ing drugs on the cata­ma­ran that does not prove any­thing.

The Court said that it will is­sue its de­cree re­gard­ing bail in cham­ber, and will deal with the prima fa­cie is­sue in the next sit­ting.

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