Man found not guilty of drug pos­ses­sion … in 2004

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

Adrian Abela was yes­ter­day ac­quit­ted of ac­cu­sa­tions of pos­ses­sion of cannabis, sell­ing the drug, and for com­mit­ting the crimes within 100m of an area where youths gather, a case that dates back to 2004.

At around 11.45 pm on 17 Jan­uary 2004, Joseph Abela, the man’s fa­ther, filed a re­port at the Ze­j­tun po­lice sta­tion, tak­ing what he sus­pected to be cannabis rolled in toi­let pa­per with him, say­ing he found them in his son’s (Adrian Abela) jacket. Adrian Abela was ar­rested the next day and a state­ment was taken.

The Court noted that the ac­cused gave a state­ment at a time when the law did not per­mit an ar­rested per­son to ob­tain le­gal ad­vice prior to in­ter­ro­ga­tion, how­ever it still de­cided that the state­ment is in­ad­mis­si­ble due to the very fact that he was not given the right to ob­tain le­gal ad­vice.

The Mag­is­trate quoted ju­rispru­dence, not­ing that in Mario Borg vs Malta, The Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights noted a vi­o­la­tion of the ac­cused’s rights due to no le­gal as­sis­tance while in po­lice cus­tody.

The Mag­is­trate also said that while pro­ce­dures have been on­go­ing for nine years, only three wit­nesses tes­ti­fied. The Court noted that the ac­cused’s fa­ther did not tes­tify, and the sub­stances passed on to the po­lice were not ex­hib­ited by the pros­e­cu­tion. The Mag­is­trate noted that a foren­sic anal­y­sis of the sub­stances did not even take place.

Dr Franco De­bono, Dr Mar­ion Camil­leri and Dr Angie Mus­cat rep­re­sented the de­fence.

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