Alleged smuggler fighting Italy extradition shouts claims of ‘conspiracy’ in court

Paul Attard, who is fighting extradition to Italy, shouts claims of “conspiracy” after court rules his continued detention in Malta is legal

Paul Attard (right) flanked by his lawyer, in an interview for French TV programme Enquete Esclusive
Paul Attard (right) flanked by his lawyer, in an interview for French TV programme Enquete Esclusive

A court has ruled that the continued detention of Paul Attard, pending the conclusion of constitutional cases he had filed, is legal.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech handed down her decision dismissing a habeas corpus application that Attard had filed yesterday. 

Immediately after the magistrate left the courtroom Attard protested loudly with the officers detailed to escort him to prison. “Murderers get bail and I don’t, although I did nothing, it’s a conspiracy between them! I knew what the sentence would be from yesterday,” he shouted.

“The Inspector and AG lie under oath and then murderers get bail. You’ve broken me, you’ve destroyed my family!”

Attard’s defence lawyer Josè Herrera – the former justice minister – told reporters after the sitting that he interpreted the decision as meaning that Article 20 of the Extradition Act only applies to “normal” extraditions, and not in cases involving European Arrest Warrants.

“It also means that the Constitutional Court does not have the power to decide on the legality of an arrest. It also means that once a European Arrest Warrant is contested by means of further proceedings, the accused has to be held under arrest until all these proceedings are concluded,” the lawyer argued.

However, in her judgment, the magistrate ruled that at law, the competence to decide on bail was retained by the court which rules on the extradition.

The court dismissed the action and upheld the AG’s request, ordering that Attard must continue to be held in preventive custody.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech noted that in this case, the extradition order itself stipulates that every person under it is to be detained in custody, until transferred to the requesting country.

This is in line with the Constitutional dispositions on personal freedom, noted the magistrate, dismissing Attard’s habeas corpus action and ordering that he be remanded in custody, pending the conclusion of his other cases.

On Thursday, the court is expected to deliver a Constitutional ruling on one of Attard’s bail requests.