Commissioner’s son’s drug sentence prompts calls to fix lengthy court processes

European Commissioner Helena Dalli’s younger son jailed three months for trafficking ecstasy at a party in Paola in 2013

Jean-Marc Dalli (left) with Helena Dalli and father Patrick
Jean-Marc Dalli (left) with Helena Dalli and father Patrick

The younger son of European Commissioner Helena Dalli, Jean-Marc, has been jailed three months after he was found guilty of trafficking ecstasy at a party in Paola in 2013.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras jailed the 25-year-old after he was caught red-handed handing over six ecstasy pills to another man outside a party venue at the old prisons in Corradino in September 2013.

Police sergeant Chris Baldacchino told the court he observed three youths arriving for the party and witnessed an exchange of a paper bag. The police had suspected drug trafficking as they saw the man handing over the pills to two other men.

One of the men, Dwight Falzon, was found in possession of six blue pills in a paper bag. A woman, who was with Dalli at the time, Gabrielle Tonna, was found in possession of three blue pills. No drugs were found on the accused.

The magistrate rubbished an argument by the defence that this was a case of drug sharing since there was no evidence to show that the drug was being shared but had simply been passed on to Falzon in a paper bag.

The magistrate noted that that the accused had helped the police with their investigation and had supplied the name of the person from whom he had bought the pills. She also considered that Dalli had a clean criminal record and the amount of drugs involved.

She jailed Dalli for three months and fined him €650. She also ordered him to pay half the court expenses in connection with the case. 

Police inspector Gabriel Micallef prosecuted.

The sentencing provoked a reaction from equality parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar, who criticised the lengthy waiting period to sentence Dalli after having been first charged in 2013.

Taking to Facebook, Cutajar – a junior minister within the ministry for justice – took to task the system that had taken eight years to sentence Dalli, who was 18 at the time of the crime, notwitstanding his clean criminal record. “This is even though, over the past eight years, he has grown, matured, and today runs an enterprise,” she said.

Cutajar said she would not go into the merits of the particular case, seeing as the parties may yet appeal the decision. “But when a young man is left in legal limbo for eight years on an act he committed when he was still a young man, it becomes clear that we have a problem with our courts. I know that like him there are many going through this martyrdom – for me, I can never call this system fair,” Cutajar said.

Nationalist MEP and vice-president Roberta Metsola also joined the fray, reaffirming her previous position on lengthy court sentencing.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Justice delayed is justice denied. An 18-year-old boy waiting for eight years for judgment before being sentenced to three months in prison is simply too long to have to wait.
“It is part of the same sad story we see time and again. 12 years ago, a 16-year-old child was arrested on a criminal charge. He is still waiting for his judgment.
“It is not about individual cases. This is not about guilt or otherwise. This is about the time it takes justice. Our society must push back against criminality, but we cannot allow cases to drag on for years or decades.
“A system that allows for that to happen while someone could take the opportunity to reform their lives is a broken system. Fix the system.”

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