PD ex­pects that all in­for­ma­tion from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is made pub­lic

Court sus­pends pro­ceed­ings pend­ing de­ci­sion on breach of con­sti­tu­tional rights

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

Par­tit Demokratiku has wel­comed the news that a del­e­ga­tion from the EU will be com­ing to Malta to in­ves­ti­gate Panama Pa­pers.

The gov­ern­ment has fallen short on tak­ing ac­tion against a high rank­ing pub­lic of­fi­cial and a min­is­ter within Cab­i­net whose names ap­peared in the Panama Pa­pers. The gov­ern­ment has also failed in tak­ing con­crete ac­tion when it comes to tax avoid­ance and tax eva­sion. This has re­sulted in shift­ing the whole scan­dal onto the gov­ern­ment due to its in­ac­tion. Fur­ther­more, the peo­ple de­serve to know the out­come of the sup­posed in­ves­ti­ga­tion an­nounced ear­lier on this year.

Par­tit Demokratiku there­fore wel­comed this news and looks for­ward to jus­tice be­ing made with the com­mon peo­ple and hon­est work­ers pay­ing their taxes whilst those in of­fice who are meant to be lead­ing by ex­am­ple failed to do so. A re­cent amend­ment that awards greater rights to per­sons placed un­der ar­rest has led to the sus­pen­sion of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against a man in or­der for an­other court to de­cide whether his Con­sti­tu­tional rights have been breached.

Aldo Pis­tella, 38, from Agri­gento, was de­nied a lawyer through­out the du­ra­tion of po­lice ques­tion­ing af­ter he was placed un­der ar­rest for al­leged pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana in cir­cum­stances that point to­wards it not be­ing for per­sonal use.

While he was granted a lawyer prior to the ques­tion­ing, a right that came into force on 28 Novem­ber stip­u­lates that per­sons have a right to le­gal aid while be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the po­lice.

Mr Pis­tella de­nied the charges brought against him. He was ini­tially ar­raigned back in 2014.

The Drug Squad made the ar­rest fol­low­ing sev­eral weeks of sur­veil­lance. The court heard how the ac­cused was un­em­ployed at the time, and that he listed a pent­house in Marsas­cala as his place of res­i­dence.

Lawyer Arthur Az­zopardi, rep­re­sent­ing the ac­cused, ar­gued that the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights pro­vides that sus­pects should have ac­cess to lawyer con­sul­ta­tions prior to tak­ing their state­ment as well as while the state­ment is be­ing taken down. Dr Az­zopardi high­lighted a num­ber of EU court judge­ments, as well as EU di­rec­tives, to back up his ar­gu­ment.

Mag­is­trate Neville Camil­leri, pre­sid­ing over the case, noted that Mr Pis­tella had de­liv­ered his state­ment to the au­thor­i­ties on 17 Oc­to­ber, 2014. The way in which his state­ment was taken was in line with Mal­tese law at the time, he high­lighted.

De­spite this, Mag­is­trate Camil­leri held that the re­quest for a Con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­ence was rel­e­vant and had merit, re­sult­ing in the is­sue be­ing re­ferred to the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Con­sti­tu­tional Ju­ris­dic­tion.

Once that court pro­nounces it­self on the is­sue, the case be­fore the Court of Mag­is­trates will con­tinue.

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