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Police officers give account of suspects’ arrest in 550kg cannabis drug bust

Police saw Italian throw a 20kg cannabis bag inside a car belonging to Rudolph Said while he had allegedly been eating out at a restaurant in St Julian’s by one of his two co-accused

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
19 October 2017, 5:53pm
File photo of a 2014 drug bust in which 18kg were seized by the Malta police force
File photo of a 2014 drug bust in which 18kg were seized by the Malta police force
One of the Italian men arrested in the 550kg cannabis drug bust last week was spotted by police placing a 20kg bag of cannabis in the car of a Maltese man.

A court heard how police observed the man throwing the bag inside a car belonging to Rudolph Said, who is charged with drug trafficking, while he had allegedly been eating out at a restaurant in St Julian’s by one of his two co-accused.

The compilation of evidence continued against Said, 35, from Fgura, Angelo Penna, 60, and Cristoforo Paratore, 42, both from Catania. The trio are accused of forming part of a drug trafficking and money laundering operation.

One of the officers who participated in the surveillance operation in St Julian’s during the night between last Wednesday and Thursday, told the court how he had been ordered to keep a lookout for Said in the area around the Millennium Chapel.

During his watch, a white Peugeot arrived and Said emerged, together with another person, before going inside a nearby restaurant where they were observed in the company of three other persons seated at a table.

The officer said he had observed a tall man wearing a light-coloured jacket, cap and glasses leaving the restaurant and going twice around the block before walking away.

This appeared to be the same man who had arrived in the Peugeot together with Said, explained the officer, who had been concentrating on Said, while giving a phone commentary to his superiors.

At one point from vantage point, the officer spotted Angelo Penna approaching the Peugeot with a heavy-looking black hold all slung over his shoulder, before throwing the bag inside the car and walking away. He identified Penna in court today.

Said was observed leaving the restaurant a few minutes later, getting into the Peugeot and had been just about to turn the key when the police arrived, blocking the man’s exit.

At the end of today’s sitting, Said’s lawyers requested bail, arguing that all police witnesses had testified and that the arrested man had strong family ties to Malta, demonstrated by the presence of several members of his family inside the courtroom.

Lawyer Franco Debono reminded the court of the need to balance the interests of justice against the rights of the arrested person. Lawyer Roberto Montalto added further that even on the basis of what had been revealed so far, it was clear that their client had entered a car in which someone else had placed a bag behind the passenger seat.

Magistrate Neville Camilleri will deliver a decree on Said’s bail from chambers.

Inspector Kevin Pulis prosecuted.

Lawyers Roberto Montalto, Franco Debono and Mario Mifsud assisted Mr Said.

Lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran was counsel to Mr Penna and Mr Paratore.

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