Man jailed over drug smuggling plot says he never saw €15,000 promised by the accused

The jury of Ahmed el Fadalli Enan, accused of complicity to import 50kg of cannabis in 2010, enters its second day

A Maltese man who had been jailed in Tunisia for his part in a drug trafficking attempt which had been foiled by the Tunisian police has told a jury that he had never seen a cent of the €15,000 promised to him by the accused for his part in the drug smuggling operation.

Tano Farrugia took the witness stand as the trial by jury of 52-year-old Fgura resident, Ahmed el Fadalli Enan from Egypt entered its third day on Wednesday. Enan is accused of complicity in the attempted importation of 50kg of cannabis in 2010.

Enan is accused of sending Farrugia to Tunisia to collect the drugs from a hotel, unaware that Tunisian police officers who had found out about the plot, were waiting for him. The Tunisian authorities later sentenced Farrugia to imprisonment for 20 years, but he was later released in 2013, together with around 300 other inmates, following an amnesty granted by the Tunisian President, as the country marked two years from the Arab spring revolution.

Before testifying before Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, Farrugia, a former football player with a Maltese club, requested the court impose a media-wide ban on the publication of his name. The judge rejected the request, in view of the public nature of jury proceedings.

The witness told the court how he had owned a shop selling detergents in 2010 and had been facing serious financial difficulties at the time. He had met Enan, who had offered him €15,000 in return for transporting 100kg of cannabis from Tunisia to Malta, in two shipments.

50kg were to be shipped on one day and the remaining 50kg the next, he said.

The boat’s arrival was planned to take place at night and although Farrugia did not know what type of boat to expect, Enan had instructed him to take a torch and signal to the person onboard the boat. It was Farrugia’s first time in Tunisia, he said.

According to the plan, the Maltese man was meant to buy a SIM card from Tunisia and use it to contact Enan. This he did and was told by the accused to expect a taxi which was coming to pick him up.

After a 90 minute drive, the taxi arrived at a ruined city and stopped outside a house. The driver told Farrugia not to get out of the car, he said. Two men emerged from the house and placed some bags in the boot of the car before they all drove off together.

Farrugia told the court that while all this was going on he had been in contact with Enan, who would speak to him and the other men in the car. 

The taxi had not taken Farrugia back to his hotel but dropped Farrugia off at a different location. Farrugia had to call another taxi to get to his hotel, he said.

It took Farrugia eight trips up and down the stairs to carry all the drugs to his hotel room, he said.

One day, he had answered a knock on his hotel room door and Tunisian police had stormed in. Farrugia was handcuffed and given “a good kicking” by the police, he said. 

He was subsequently convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tunisian court.

At this point in his testimony, an argument arose between the prosecution and the defence as to whether the jurors should be informed of the witness’ conviction. 

After sending the jury out of the courtroom, the judge told the parties that his conviction and subsequent presidential pardon could be mentioned to the jury.

Upon their return to the courtroom, the jurors heard Farrugia explain that he had spent just three years in prison in Tunisia before being pardoned by the country’s interim president.

Farrugia insisted that he hadn’t seen a penny of the promised €15,000.

Cross-examined by the defence, Farrugia testified that he had accepted to take part in the plan because he had been in a lot of debt and needed cash. Enan had spoken to him a couple of times before inviting him to participate in the crime, Farrugia said, adding that he had accepted immediately. He had gone to Tunisia with €400 cash given to him by the accused and had booked his hotel room upon arrival.

Farrugia’s brothers Robert and Adrian also took the stand today. Robert Farrugia told the jury that he had not known why his brother had been detained in Tunisia. Adrian Farrugia testified that when he had finally met up with the accused, he had smashed his mobile phone on the floor and stepped on it. The brother then reported everything to the police.

Lawyers Kevin Valletta and Godwin Cini are prosecuting on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is defence counsel.

Day 1 | Man on trial over drug smuggling plot from Tunisia was 'head of the pyramid', jury hears