Three men charged with smug­gling 870,000 cig­a­rettes

Malta Independent - - News -

Three men yes­ter­day ap­peared in court ac­cused of smug­gling cig­a­rettes, in con­nec­tion with Thurs­day’s seizure by cus­toms of­fi­cials of 870,000 con­tra­band cig­a­rettes on a speed­boat from Si­cily.

James Az­zopardi, 29 of Qormi, James Spi­teri, 29 of Qormi and Redeemer Camil­leri, 24 of Marsa, ap­peared in the dock be­fore mag­is­trate Caroline Far­ru­gia Frendo this af­ter­noon. The court was told that the men were ap­pre­hended in a van af­ter taking de­liv­ery of the con­tra­band cig­a­rettes from a speed­boat.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Cus­toms Depart­ment pre­sented var­i­ous doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the items seized to the court, which are now in cus­toms’ pos­ses­sion.

All three ac­cused pleaded not guilty to the charges and re­quested bail.

In­spec­tor Ren­nie Sti­vala, pros­e­cut­ing, ob­jected to bail, in par­tic­u­lar with re­gards Az­zopardi in par­tic­u­lar, in view of the man’s crim­i­nal record. He had been pre­vi­ously been given bail for sim­i­lar charges, said the in­spec­tor.

Lawyer Joe Giglio, for Spi­teri, ar­gued that the most im­por­tant thing is that the on­go­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is not a ground for re­fus­ing bail. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion in view of Spi­teri had ended, he said.

Scir­iha, for Az­zopardi, said that the is­sue of pre­vi­ous bail con­di­tions would only be­come an is­sue if guilt was found. “He is not yet found guilty of that crime,” pointed out the crim­i­nal lawyer, also telling the court that such cases “are nor­mally ar­raigned by writ of sum­mons.”

The court, how­ever, de­nied bail and or­dered that the men be re­manded in cus­tody.

Lawyer Michael Scir­iha ap­peared for James Az­zopardi, lawyer Joe Giglio for James Spi­teri and lawyer Fransina Abela for Redeemer Camil­leri.

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