Court turns down hu­man rights breach claim by in­mate serv­ing 12-year jail term

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

A Con­sti­tu­tional court has turned down a hu­man rights claim filed by Joseph Feila­zoo, a Nige­rian man cur­rently serv­ing a 12-year sen­tence for drug traf­fick­ing.

Joseph Feila­zoo ar­rived in Malta on 27 Au­gust, 2008 on a flight from Spain. He was caught car­ry­ing 25.04 grams of heroin, 912 grams of co­caine and 25.04 grams of cannabis leaves, in 65 cap­sules, which were found in his stom­ach and rec­tum.

The ac­cused was sen­tenced to 12 years im­pris­on­ment and fined €50,000, and was also to pay €1,269 in court fees. 24 months were later added to his sen­tence af­ter he failed to pay the fine or the costs.

Mr Feila­zoo filed this Con­sti­tu­tional case be­fore the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Con­sti­tu­tional ju­ris­dic­tion, ar­gu­ing that his right to a fair trial had been breached. He said that he was not as­sisted by a lawyer dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

He also said his rights were breached due to the man­ner in which the At­tor­ney Gen­eral had ex­er­cised his dis­cre­tion on whether to in­dict him or re­mit his case to the Court of Mag­is­trates for trial. He also ar­gued that the fines im­posed on him were ex­ces­sive and that he was un­able to pay them.

Mr Jus­tice Mark Chet­cuti dis­agreed with the ap­pli­cant’s al­le­ga­tions, stat­ing that for a judge­ment to be deemed in­hu­mane, hu­mil­i­a­tion or suf­fer­ing must go be­yond what is con­nected with a le­git­i­mate form of pun­ish­ment.

The court found that his right for le­gal as­sis­tance dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion was breached, but the court found this breach to be merely for­mal and that it had no ef­fect on the right­eous­ness of the jus­tice process.

The court noted that the ap­pli­cant failed to raise the va­lid­ity of his state­ment at any stage, and only brought it up af­ter judge­ment was given.

As for the AG’s dis­cre­tion, the court noted that there was lit­tle doubt he would have es­caped ap­pear­ing be­fore the courts.

The court found that the fines were in­evitable as a re­sult of his crim­i­nal acts.

His ap­pli­ca­tion was dis­missed.

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