Cata­ma­ran drug traf­fick­ing case: Enough prima fa­cie ev­i­dence for in­dict­ment

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

A mag­is­trate ruled yes­ter­day that there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to in­dict three peo­ple who were charged with im­port­ing cannabis to Malta from Si­cily.

Rita Sci­cluna, 41, of Luqa, her Nige­rian hus­band, Ni­cholas Obaseki, 28, and Osaro Osarenkhoe, 27, are ac­cused of con­spir­ing to im­port four ki­los of cannabis on the Malta-Si­cily cata­ma­ran last month.

The court heard last week how a snif­fer dog had found the drugs, which were hid­den un­der the bon­net of a car Mrs Sci­cluna was driv­ing off the cata­ma­ran.

Mrs Sci­cluna had been spot­ted with Mr Osarenkhoe both on and off the ferry while her hus­band, Mr Obaseki, was wait­ing out­side the ter­mi­nal.

Lawyer Franco De­bono, ap­pear­ing for Osarenkhoe, in­sisted that there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port the prima fa­cie de­cree.

“My client was seen next to Mrs Sci­cluna on the cata­ma­ran and in a car that was never un­der his con­trol. This is no proof of any­thing.” He said that while the po­lice might have had rea­son­able sus­pi­cion to ar­rest the man, they should have fol­lowed that up with a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion yet they (the po­lice) had not pre­sented any ev­i­dence to sup­port their claims. “The po­lice got stuck at sus­pi­cion stage. This is pure con­jec­ture and sup­po­si­tion.”

Dr De­bono ar­gued that, in or­der to place some­one un­der in­dict­ment, the po­lice had to at least prove prob­a­bil­ity. “Prima fa­cie is it­self a low level of proof, but it still needs some ev­i­dence,” the lawyer said.

The fact that he was in the com­pany of some­one that was ‘known to the po­lice’ was still not proof of any­thing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors had also con­firmed that they had found noth­ing dur­ing searches on the per­son of the ac­cused.

Dr De­bono said the prose­cu­tion had not proved any link be­tween Mr Osarenkhoe and the drugs – there were no phone taps, text mes­sages or any other ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim of con­spir­acy to im­port drugs.

In­spec­tor Gabriel Mi­callef, pros­e­cut­ing, said sus­pi­cion had been raised by Mr Osarenkhoe’s move­ments. He said the prose­cu­tion was con­vinced of the guilt of the ac­cused. The In­spec­tor added that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on­go­ing and ev­i­dence was still be­ing col­lected.

Dr De­bono again asked why call records the prose­cu­tion had re­ferred to had not been ex­hib­ited and ac­cused the po­lice of pur­su­ing a ‘fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion’ against Mr Osarenkhoe.

Mag­is­trate Neville Camil­leri said that, from what the court had heard dur­ing pre­vi­ous sit­tings and from doc­u­ments ex­hib­ited in court there was suf­fi­cient prima fa­cie ev­i­dence to place the three ac­cused un­der a bill of in­dict­ment.

The case con­tin­ues in Novem­ber.

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