Jordan Azzopardi bail confirmed, court suggests electronic tagging

A court has denied the Attorney General’s request for the re-arrest of Jordan Azzopardi saying that electronic tagging was a more 'serious, effective and efficient' means of ensuring compliance with bail conditions

Jordan Azzopardi
Jordan Azzopardi

A court has denied the Attorney General’s request for the re-arrest of Jordan Azzopardi, who was recently released on bail, saying that electronic tagging was a more “serious, effective and efficient” means of ensuring compliance with bail conditions than signing a bail book twice daily.

The court issued its decree after the attorney general requested Azzopardi’s rearrest just days after he was released on bail. 

Azzopardi, 30, had been under arrest since March 2019 when he was detained along with his girlfriend, following police raids on properties used for drug trafficking.

He stands charged with drug trafficking, criminal conspiracy, money laundering, circulation of counterfeit cash, possession of an unlicensed weapon, threatening and injuring a third party and breaching previous bail conditions.

His girlfriend was also arraigned and charged with criminal conspiracy, circulation of fake cash and defrauding three shops.

Both are pleading not guilty. His girlfriend, a mother of five whose name cannot be published due to a court-imposed ban, was granted bail a few months after the arraignment. Azzopardi was granted bail earlier this month. 

Azzopardi’s bail conditions included signing a bail book every day, observing a curfew and other conditions. It was secured by a €150,000 personal guarantee. A third party guarantor was also required to provide a €50,000 guarantee which would also be forfeited if Azzopardi breached his bail conditions.

The Attorney General had subsequently filed an application before Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja, arguing that the €50,000 deposit had been deposited by the third party guarantor’s company and not his personal account. He had also requested Azzopardi’s re-arrest or the imposition of tighter controls.

Azzopardi’s lawyers, Franco Debono and Joe Giglio insisted Azzopardi had not breached his bail conditions.

They said the third-party guarantor, a company director, had been abroad at the time of the decree and had given instructions such that the necessary bail money be deposited by the company. The receipt was made out to the company director in question. 

The defence lawyers also insisted that there was no right of appeal from a bail decree delivered by the Criminal Court. 

Presiding judge Aaron Bugeja said that although the guarantor was a company director, he should not have used company funds for Azzopardi’s bail money.

But this was not a sufficient reason to revoke bail, the court said. It ordered the guarantor to deposit €50,000 in his personal capacity and rejected the prosecution’s pleas.

The judge observed that signing a bail book twice a day would not to stop someone from escaping the country if he so wished, arguing that electronic tagging – a proposal which is currently being assessed by lawmakers - could help with such cases. 

A similar suggestion had been made by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera three years ago when deciding a bail request in a rape case.

That time the judge had noted that in 2012, former MP Franco Debono had suggested introducing the electronic tagging of suspects to allow for easier and more effective surveillance.