Jason Azzopardi suggests extension to 48 hour rule in mafia cases

"Organised crime...has a structure and is well equipped. It has resources, both human and technological, at its disposal which did not exist 20, 30, and 40 years ago”  - Jason Azzopardi

The police headquarters in Floriana
The police headquarters in Floriana

Opposition MP and criminal lawyer Jason Azzopardi has called for an extension to the time period in which suspects can be detained without charge by the police in certain serious cases.

In a Facebook post uploaded this morning, Azzopardi, who has worked as a criminal lawyer for over two decades, said that over the years he had observed that the 48 hours of arrest allowed by law did not allow sufficient time for police investigators to properly investigate the most serious crimes.

These crimes included homicide and organised crime, Azzopardi said. “Organised crime is hardcore criminality…It has a structure…It is well equipped. It has resources, both human and technological, at its disposal which did not exist 20, 30, and 40 years ago.” There was also the formidable obstacle of “omerta” – the code of silence between its members, Azzopardi pointed out.

“In the light of this and legal amendments in European countries over the past 10 years, the time has come for us to give our police force the right to hold persons under investigation for major crimes (e.g. homicide) up to a maximum of 96 hours.”

Azzopardi proposed additional safeguards to this amendment. Once 48 hours were close to elapsing, the investigating officer, through a sworn application to the duty magistrate, would ask for a one-off permission to be given another 48 hours for valid reasons which would be clearly listed in the application.

“It is nice to praise our police, especially the Criminal Investigation Department, but it is not enough. Let us give them the tools they require to fight the mafia. Because organised crime is Mafia and exists in Malta too.”

 

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