Magistrate’s ruling brings breach of bail proceedings to a standstill

Breach of bail cases awaiting outcome of constitutional case on automatic bail guarantee confiscation 

A magistrate’s ruling has brought breach of bail proceedings to a standstill until a Constitutional referral - on the status of a law obliging the courts to seize bail guarantees once a breach has been confirmed - is decided. 

Said Ramdan Alhaj, 31, from Libya appeared before magistrate Neville Camilleri, accused of breaching a bail decree he was given in an attempted murder case in December 2020. The prosecution, Inspector Roderick Attard, requested the confiscation of Alhaj’s €10,200 bail bond.  

The automatic confiscation was contested by the defence bench, with lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb arguing that the issue was currently the subject of a separate Constitutional case. 

In his ruling, magistrate Camilleri made reference to a recent decision by magistrate Josette Demicoli, in a case in which a Spanish man and woman, Maria Patrica De Las Heras and Christoph Jorge Valdiva Docio, who were facing the confiscation of their bail guarantees were given the right to contest the confiscation before the constitutional courts. 

Magistrate Camilleri acceded to the request to suspend proceedings until the Constitutional reference in that case is decided. Lawyers say the decision has placed all breach of bail proceedings in “legal limbo” until the De Las Heras case is decided. 

Parliament is discussing a bill proposing the addressing of the situation with respect to bail guarantees and the granting of more discretion to courts in deciding whether to seize them or not. 

In the meantime, Alhaj was released on bail, ordered to sign a bail book daily and observe a curfew, secured by a deposit of €500 and a personal guarantee of €10,000.