No bail for woman who tried to use fake ID to leave Malta

Woman arrested after being stopped at airport on her way to Italy with a fake ID document

Woman tried leaving Malta with fake ID is denied bail
Woman tried leaving Malta with fake ID is denied bail

A woman has been remanded in custody after trying to leave Malta using a false identification document.

Mary Melsi Maoud, 41, from Nigeria was arraigned before Magistrate Leonard Caurana this afternoon with Inspector Karl Roberts accusing the woman of forging a passport, knowingly making use of it to travel and giving a false statement to the immigration police.

The woman told the court that she could not afford to engage a lawyer. The court appointed legal aid lawyer Michael Farrugia to assist her in the proceedings.

Inspector Roberts explained that Maoud had been arrested at the airport yesterday, as a result of an intra-Schengen check carried out on passengers arriving at the airport on the accused’s flight leaving from Malta to Naples.

The woman was found to be attempting to travel using a counterfeit Italian ID card. She was questioned but did not collaborate with the police investigation, said the inspector.

Her lawyer asked how the police decided that the document was false. It was a really bad copy, replied the inspector, adding that Frontex agents are stationed at the airport to assist with identifying forged documents.

Farrugia contested the legality of the arrest, arguing that the general conditions for arrest, laid down in the Criminal Code, were not met. “From the evidence so far produced it appears that there is insufficient evidence to show that these conditions are satisfied.”

Inspector Roberts added that during the investigation, the accused had shown the police a photo of her real ID card on her phone, which was not the same as the one she had presented to the immigration authorities.

“The accused is a prohibited migrant. She has no right to stay in Malta,” added the inspector.

Farrugia argued that the inspector’s testimony showed that the arrest to have been premature and that there was no evidence supporting the suggestion that she was a prohibited migrant.

The court, after hearing the submissions and having seen the statement released by the accused, declared the arrest to be valid and justified.

Asked how she would be pleading, the woman replied that she was not guilty.

Farrugia asked the court to grant bail to his client. Inspector Roberts replied by pointing out that the woman had no fixed address in Malta, had no means of supporting herself and had already tried to abscond. In addition to this, the woman was legally classified as a “prohibited migrant” in Malta. The law obliged the Principal Immigration Officer to return her to the country which issued her documents. Furthermore, even if she is granted bail, she would be held in detention.

Her lawyer argued that the charges had to be taken in the broader context that the accused had also been found in possession of a valid passport. She is a healthy woman who can support herself, he said, arguing that there were no valid grounds to keep her under arrest.

Bail was refused, with the court noting that the woman could not offer the guarantees required by law.