Court reluctantly acquits Leli l-Bully's brother of drug charges after statement ruled inadmissible

John Camilleri, brother of the infamous ‘Leli l-Bully’, acquitted of conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana, due to insufficient evidence

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
26 September 2017, 3:55pm
Camilleri was charged with conspiring to traffic/import drugs in 2002, after a large consignment of cocaine and marijuana from Holland, destined for Malta, was intercepted in Sicily in December 2001
Camilleri was charged with conspiring to traffic/import drugs in 2002, after a large consignment of cocaine and marijuana from Holland, destined for Malta, was intercepted in Sicily in December 2001
A court has acquitted John Camilleri, the brother of the infamous Emmanuel ‘Leli l-Bully’ Camilleri, of conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana due to insufficient evidence – despite the magistrate remarking that he was “morally convinced” that the accused had been involved in the criminal enterprise.

Camilleri, 49 from Mqabba, had been charged with conspiring to traffic and import drugs in 2002, after a large consignment of cocaine and marijuana from Holland, destined for Malta, was intercepted in Sicily in December 2001.

The Police had been informed that several people, including some prison inmates, had used their foreign contacts to help set up the shipment. One suspect was John Camilleri, whose brother Emanuel was suspected as having masterminded the operation from his jail cell.

Investigations revealed that Emmanuel Camilleri had been communicating with individuals in Holland, who were planning to ship a large quantity of cocaine and marijuana to Malta.

Emmanuel had also been in contact with several people from Malta to make arrangements for payment, and plans had reached an advanced stage of execution before being foiled by the arrest of several conspirators in Sicily.

The consignment of two kilogrammes of cocaine, one kilogramme of heroin and 2,000 ecstasy tablets was seized in Sicily before they could embark on the final leg of their journey to Malta.

Emmanuel Camilleri was arrested and later charged in court in connection to the operation. John Camilleri had been arrested after the police investigation discovered that he had been contacted by his brother to assist in the transfer of a large amount of money to several people involved in the criminal organisation.

The court had been told that Camilleri accepted the instructions, received in a telephone call from his brother Emmanuel, whilst well aware of the reasons for the transfer.

Several members of group planning to import the drugs were arrested, including John Camilleri.

Camilleri’s defence lawyer, Joe Brincat argued that his client’s initial statement should be deemed inadmissible as he had not been allowed to consult a lawyer prior to his interrogation. This right was introduced in Malta in 2010, but has since been applied retroactively by a number of judgments by the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale upheld the objection and declared the statement to be inadmissible.

However, records of telephone calls and other communication were allowed as evidence because they were seized on the strength of a warrant approved by the Home Affairs Minister of the time.

The court observed that these showed Camilleri to have been in “regular communication” with people involved in the abortive crime, including Raymond ‘il-Borza’ Borg, Charles ‘Pips’ Muscat, and Mario Camilleri ‘l-Imniehru’. Muscat and Camilleri had been in prison at the time they had been communicating with the accused, using mobile phones – which are a prohibited item for prison inmates, as well as with a Dutch contact.

It resulted that the accused, who was on bail, had been instrumental to his brother’s communication with third parties.

But despite the fact that Camilleri had been in regular contact with the conspirators, the transcripts of his communications did not reveal any connection between the accused and the importation of the drugs seized in Sicily.

The court observed that having heard the recorded conversations between the accused and his brother, Emmanuel Camilleri was “not at all credible” in his claim that the accused’s role was simply that of passing money between Emmanuel and Raymond ‘il-Borza’.

In his judgment, clearing Camilleri of the charges, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale remarked that although he was “morally convinced” of the accused’s involvement in the entire criminal operation, to the extent that he had also invested his own money in it, the prosecution’s evidence, hamstrung as it was by the inadmissibility of the man’s statement, was insufficient to overcome reasonable doubt.

Lawyer Joe Brincat was defence counsel.

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