Owner of Porsche used by drug traffickers failed to report stolen car keys

Two individuals accused of importing up to 70kg of cannabis resin were found an arrested by members of the Drugs Squad as they were about to drive away in the sportscar 

Matthew Agius
28 September 2017, 5:23pm
A young Italian woman charged in connection with the discovery of 70kg of cannabis in Ghadira Bay earlier this month, has been denied bail again as criminal proceedings against her and a Maltese man continued.

Michael Aquilina, 44, and Greta Grassi, 22, had been arrested on September 7 after a surveillance operation by the Drug Squad led to the discovery of a trafficking operation operating between Malta and Sicily on speedboats.

Magistrate Neville Camilleri heard Omar Psaila of Mtarfa, joint owner of the boat ‘Grande Fratello’ which he had purchased last year, together with Aquilina, testified today.

The “Grande Fratello” had been intercepted on the evening of September 7 by the Drug Squad as it entered Ghadira Bay carrying a consignment of cannabis resin on board.

Psaila explained how the boat had been used to ferry its owners, together with their respective spouses and children, on pleasure trips in the past.

The witness recognised Aquilina in the courtroom but said he had no idea as to who Grassi was, and had never seen here before.

Another witness summoned to testify yesterday was the owner of the Porsche sportscar in which the two co-accused had been arrested by the police in Ghadira, as they were about to drive away with around 50kg of cannabis resin in the car’s boot.

With some prodding by the court, the reluctant witness explained that she had allowed Michael Aquilina to borrow the car in the past. He would park it on the street close to her residence in Bugibba when finished with the car.

When the witness claimed that the accused had last borrowed the car before September, the prosecution questioned how Aquilina had been driving the vehicle on September 7.

She replied that she had two car keys and that one of them had been misplaced. When she saw media reports mentioning her car as having been involved in criminal activity, she had been afraid and had not reported the theft of her keys to the police.

After being warned by the magistrate that she could face criminal action if found to be lying under oath, she said that she had not realized that her Porsche was missing because she had to work the next day and had not checked to see whether her car was still parked near her house.

The magistrate asked whether she was afraid or had been threatened before testifying.

“I was afraid of becoming embroiled in the case, which I only got to know of through the media,” the woman replied.

Towards the end of the sitting lawyer Roberto Montalto requested bail  for his Grassi, emphasising that the 22-year old Malta resident had a clean criminal record and posed no real risk of absconding. All civilian witnesses had testified, the lawyer said, before pointing out that the owner of the boat had just testified to have never seen Grassi on the vessel. The Porsche’s registered owner had not mentioned her either.

But in a decree delivered from chambers later this afternoon, the court turned down the request for bail.

Inspector Frank A. Tabone prosecuted.

Lawyers Roberto Montalto and Gianluca Caruana Curran are appearing for Grassi.

Lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima is counsel to Aquilina.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia assisted today’s witnesses.

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