Two men jailed after drug jury

The men had been arrested and charged with drug trafficking in 2009, and have now pleaded guilty

Two men who admitted to possession with intent to traffic cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis in 2009, at the start of their trial by jury yesterday, have been sentenced this morning.

Justin Zahra and Wayne Pisani, today both 34-years-old, had been arrested and charged with drug trafficking in 2009, after police officers raided their Sliema apartment and found 12 packets of cocaine, 48 ecstasy pills and a kilogram of cannabis.

Zahra, who had been awaiting judgment on similar charges, and Pisani, who had previously been charged with vehicle theft, had initially denied the charges, but when the trial began yesterday, the men’s lawyers filed guilty pleas.

During submissions on punishment, the Attorney General had requested that Zahra be jailed for seven years and Pisani for six. The men’s defence counsel, lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili for Zahra, and Kathleen Calleja Grima for Pisani, argued amongst other things that the men had cooperated with the police and had been awaiting trial for 12 years.

Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti found the men guilty on their own admission, noting however in his considerations on punishment that they had released incriminating statements, without access to legal counsel and had given the police information which helped obtain indictments for other alleged criminals.

The 12-year gap between arrest and trial also affected the overall fairness of the process, said the judge.

In view of this, the court jailed Pisani for three years and Zahra for three years and six months.