Suspected drug trafficker denied bail

Man found in possession of 1.75kg of cannabis, together with 19g of cocaine and 7g of MDMA says drugs were for personal use, but court denies him bail

A magistrate has denied bail to a man accused of aggravated possession of cocaine and cannabis, as well as other drugs.

Darko Smiljanic, a 31 year-old cleaner, taxi driver and construction worker from Serbia was arrested after police had received a tip off and had placed him under surveillance. This surveillance led the police to develop a reasonable suspicion of a crime and a warrant of arrest was obtained. At the time of his arrest, the police found drugs both inside his apartment and on his person.

Inspector Steven-Ryan Micallef told magistrate Ian Farrugia that 1.75kg of cannabis were found in his possession, together with 19g of cocaine and 7g of MDMA and an assortment of empty sachets.

Smiljanic’s lawyer, Franco Debono, suggested that the cannabis was found in five large blocks, but the inspector disagreed, saying there were more than five. The accused had told police that he had bought the drugs for his own use, but the size of the packages might indicate that he was simply selling in large denominators, said Inspector Micallef.

The accused pleaded not guilty and requested bail.

This was opposed by the prosecution, which argued that the gravity of the case, the substantial amounts of more than one drug, the accused’s lack of times to Malta and the early stage of the investigation militated against bail.

The defence said there were no impediment to bail. Debono argued that the gravity of the offence was not a ground for refusing bail and neither was the fact that there were different types of drug. The accused had “quite strong” ties to Malta, argued the defence, pointing out that he had lived here for six years and has a wife and two children at school here. The lawyer added that the accused had cooperated fully with the police.

“When the inspector mentions that the accused hasn’t got strong ties, I tend to suspect that the prosecution hasn’t got a strong case. The man has lived here for some time and has family here,” Debono said.

The Court, however, denied bail to the accused, stating that the fact that the accused had “no real ties to the islands” as well as the fact that the charges were of a very serious nature, meant that there was a real and tangible danger to the proper administration of justice.

As happens in all drug trafficking cases, an attachment order over all property belonging to the accused was issued, stopping him from transferring or disposing of any movable or immovable property.

Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb also appeared for the accused.

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