Jurors acquit man accused of cannabis trafficking

Tony Curmi had been arrested in November 2014, and was accused of trafficking 2kg of cannabis

Tarxien resident Tony Curmi, has been acquitted of trafficking 2kg of cannabis in a trial by jury.

Curmi, 38, was indicted for trafficking 2kg of cannabis resin and aggravated possession of the illegal substance. His trial started on Tuesday.

He had been arrested in November 2014 by police acting on a tip off that drugs were being sold by Curmi.

A search of his car returned no drugs but officers placed a garage he used under surveillance, eventually spotting another man, Wayne Grima, – who is still awaiting trial on similar charges – leaving the garage carrying a white bag.

Police had stopped Grima and found the cannabis resin in the bag. A search of the garage returned weighing scales and small empty sachets used in drug trafficking. The drugs had a street value of nearly €46,000, the court had been told.

As the jury progressed -and indeed before it had even started - it was clear that the fact that Grima would not testify in order not to incriminate himself, would be a major stumbling block for the prosecution. The fact was exploited to great effect by the defence, who argued that Curmi had not known about the drugs and had been an unwitting accomplice to Grima.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera concluded her final address to the panel of jurors earlier today, after which they retired to deliberate on a verdict.

This evening, the jurors returned with a verdict of not guilty by six votes to three.

Lawyers Anthony Vella, Sean Gabriel Scerri De Caro from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.

Lawyers Edward Gatt, Mark Vassallo and Ishmael Psaila are defence counsel.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera presided.

AG requested trial suspension in 2020

The case against Curmi was hamstrung from the start by the fact that the prosecution’s crucial witness, Wayne Grima, was unlikely to testify due to the fact that he was also going to be tried separately over the 2014 cannabis bust, and would therefore potentially incriminate himself.

The Attorney General had originally filed an application requesting the suspension of the trial in December 2020, but this was turned down as it was filed at the wrong time – the court was hearing preliminary pleas at the time. A second, last-minute request requesting the postponement sine die of the trial was filed on the Friday before the trial began on Monday 13 September. 

In the application it was pointed out that Grima was a very important prosecution witness and that it was “in the best interests of justice” that the trial be postponed. The court refused the application.