Man cleared of drug importation charges after 19-year wait for justice

A man who faced charges of conspiracy to import drugs from Sicily has been cleared, almost two decades later

The court has acquitted a man of conspiracy to import drugs after it ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt and instead based its case on conjectures
The court has acquitted a man of conspiracy to import drugs after it ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt and instead based its case on conjectures

A 71-year-old man has been acquitted from involvement in a conspiracy to import 3kg of cocaine in a case dating back to 2001.

Angelo Zahra was arrested 19 years ago by police who were staking out several people suspected of wanting to import drugs by speed boat from Sicily.

Zahra had been with one of the suspects, Jason Briffa, at a restaurant in Golden Bay where police were anticipating the arrival of a speed boat.

The men were arrested and a subsequent police search of a van belonging to Briffa yielded a plastic bag containing Lm31,640 (€70,000) in cash and a cheque of Lm307.18 addressed to Briffa’s wife.

Magistrate Neville Camilleri ruled that evidence against Zahra proved very scarce and based on conjectures. The court said the requisite proof beyond reasonable doubt, typical in criminal proceedings, was lacking.

Meanwhile, all the other co-accused had declared that they never met or were informed of Zahra’s involvement in financing this supposed drug importation. 

Significantly, it transpired that no importation was on the cards. Rather, the court considered the case as a plan to defraud the cocaine buyers.

The prosecution was headed by Assistant Commissioner Norbert Ciappara lawyer Joe Giglio was defence counsel.

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