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Extradited conman Patrick Spiteri claims prison inmate has scabies

Former lawyer clamouring for house arrest refusing to stay in Corradino’s division 15 due to scabies-infected inmate

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
12 September 2017, 3:00pm
Patrick Spiteri
Patrick Spiteri
The disbarred lawyer Patrick Spiteri has repeated his request for bail, claiming that he is being forced to live in a prison wing that has recently admitted an inmate infected with scabies.

Spiteri was extradited to Malta in May from the UK following a cat and mouse game with the Maltese authorities, to face charges of fraud and misappropriation amounting to around €7.4 million.

Spiteri had been arrested in the UK on the strength of at least seven European Arrest Warrants. It was the third time the Maltese authorities had attempted to bring Spiteri to Malta: he is believed to have escaped from custody the first time and had resisted the second attempt to transfer him to the island, citing a medical condition.

He was finally successfully transferred to Malta after local police flew a doctor to the UK, together with the arresting officers, who then certified Spiteri as fit to fly and stand trial.

Yesterday saw the first sitting of Spiteri’s case, before duty magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, who was assigned the case after the retirement of the previous presiding magistrate.

Spiteri’s lawyer, Stefano Filletti, repeated the request for bail, having already asked for the man’s release before magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona and in two separate cases before magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera. 

This morning Spiteri’s lawyer asked for bail once again, explaining that the accused still has pending bail requests that had been discussed in August for which he was still awaiting a decree.

“Dr. Franco Camilleri, a medical doctor appointed by court, is recommending that the accused not be held in prison for health reasons,” Filletti said. “The accused is in the physical impossibility of accessing his notes and files which are held in part in court and others in private property. Therefore he cannot prepare his defence. A request to have a copy of all the files had been refused due to the sheer number of documents. Also some of the material is so sensitive that it should not be copied.

“The court, differently presided, had ordered that the accused be temporarily held in division 15. The accused is refusing to go to division 15 because it is a makeshift division and essentially an open dormitory. He was supposed to be held in de facto isolation.

“Division 15, which is partially underground, was the subject of harsh criticism by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe. In September 2015, it had been ‘happy to report that the division had permanently closed’.” It was however reopened later on.

“Although it is clear that Spiteri suffers from a particular illness and a problematic immune system, the accused has become aware that division 15 had admitted an inmate with a contagious illness suspected to be scabies that was so serious that the inmate needed hospitalisation yesterday. As the court-appointed medical expert has testified, the symptoms of the accused’s illness are causing him continuous physical pain.”

Filletti said Spiteri was suffering from unnecessary pain because he is being held in prison, and that he was refusing to go to division 15 which would mean physical and psychological isolation that even in terms of the criminal code is a punitive measure.

Spiteri is also facing disciplinary action for refusing to move to division 15, despite the court putting emphasis that the move was not a punitive measure.

“It is inconceivable that a balance cannot be found between the health of the accused, his right to defend himself in a complex criminal case, his right to enjoy his family with his requirements and obligations to attend court sittings.” 

The lawyer reminded the court that the accused was supposed to be presumed innocent at this stage.

Inspector Yvonne Farrugia, prosecuting, made no further submissions, resting instead on the Attorney General’s reply to previous bail requests.

The court ordered the immediate notification of the criminal court directors to immediately assign the case, together with the defence’s request for bail. He is to remain in custody in the meantime. The case is to continue within 15 days.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...
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