Marsascala bar owner accused of drug trafficking

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A bar owner was granted bail after he was arraigned in court facing drug trafficking and money laundering charges on Tuesday. The alleged drug trafficking took place at his bar.

Police officers found small amounts of cannabis during a search at the bar in September. Two individuals were found consuming cannabis, however, two other individuals allegedly knocked at the door to buy cannabis during the search.

Drug Squad officers accompanied by sniffer dogs assisted the officers. Subsequently 15g of cannabis grass, 47g of cocaine, 17 cannabis resin and a substantial amount of cash were found hidden behind the sink.

The owner’s house in Ħaż-Żabbar was searched. An addition €235,000 in cash were found in safe. This led to money laundering charges.

The 54-year-old man was also accused of selling drugs within 100m from a place frequented by youths and of not submitting income tax returns in the past four years.

The man was also accused of relapsing.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

The man was granted police bail while the investigations continued.

Defence counsel Franco Debono made a request for bail. He asked whether the accused explained the origin of the cash found at his home, eliciting a reply in the affirmative.

The prosecution objected to the request in view of the gravity of the offences. The court was asked to impose stringent conditions in case the request is upheld.

Presiding magistrate Gabriella Vella granted bail against a deposit of €5,000, a personal guarantee of €20,000 and an order to sign the bail book every day.

The court also issued a freezing order upon all assets of the accused, save for an annual statutory allowance of €13,976. 

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Amadeus Cachia appeared for the accused. Police Inspectors Justine Grech and Brian Paul Camilleri led the prosecution.