Jordan Azzopardi says he thought police roadblock was connected to past threats

Azzopardi, who was out on bail for drug trafficking, was arrested after leading police on a car chase in Madliena • He was seen throwing a bag containing 130g of suspected cocaine during the chase

Jordan Azzopardi
Jordan Azzopardi

Jordan Azzopardi claimed to have reversed out of a police roadblock last month, because he hadn’t noticed that the unmarked vehicles belonged to the police and was fearful of people who had threatened him in the past.

Police Inspector Alfredo Mangion gave evidence before magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras this morning, as the compilation of evidence against the accused continued.

Azzopardi, who had been on bail in connection with the 2019 discovery of what was described as a drugs factory at a farmhouse in Wardija, was arrested again last month after a car chase in Madliena, in which a number of vehicles were damaged.

Inspector Mangion told the court that the police had received a tip-off that the accused was breaching his bail conditions and had been waiting for Azzopardi, who he specified was known as "el Chapo,” would be at his home in Madliena.

Azzopardi had been spotted in Naxxar driving a BMW X3, he said.

“I was informed that after 3:30pm, police vehicles tried to stop Azzopardi’s vehicle near Busietta Gardens at a set of traffic lights, but for some reason he reversed and drove between cars and the wall, causing damage.” The inspector went on to say that in spite of this, the police had managed to follow the suspect vehicle and had subsequently observed Azzopardi throwing something out of the driver’s window of the car. 

After the police succeeded in stopping Azzopardi’s vehicle in Gharghur, officers recovered a bag containing 130g of a white substance, suspected to be cocaine, at the spot where he had been seen throwing something out of the car. White powder was spread across the area, added Mangion.

No drugs or illegal items were recovered, after a search was conducted at Azzopardi’s residence at a residential complex in Madliena, said the inspector when cross-examined. 

Azzopardi’s vehicle licence disc was noted as belonging to another car, he said. 

The accused had released an audiovisual statement to police on 23 July, in the presence of his lawyers. “In short, Azzopardi said that he hadn’t noticed that the vehicles were police cars and was fearful of people who had threatened him in the past. He did not admit to owning the drugs,” Inspector Mangion told the court.

Two civilian vehicles, a Peugeot 308 and a Toyota Vitz were damaged by the accused during the car chase. Azzopardi's lawyer, Charles Mercieca, informed the court today that the defence was in a position to settle the damages immediately.

During his cross-examination by the defence lawyer, the inspector was asked whether Azzopardi had cooperated with the police during his interrogation.

The lawyer asked whether Azzopardi had answered the questions. “He did, but I didn’t get the answers I was hoping for,” replied the inspector.

A police constable who had participated in Azzopardi’s latest arrest also testified today, giving a similar account to that of the inspector.

He had observed the accused throwing a white-coloured bag out of his driver-side window, he said.

During Azzopardi’s arrest, the suspect was informed that he was being arrested for dangerous driving and suspicion of drug possession, said the constable. He had accompanied the accused back to Madliena bridge where the white bag was seen being thrown out of the car.

The witness exhibited his report and a map of the relevant area, annotated to show where the various events that he had mentioned in his account, had occurred.

Cross-examined by Mercieca, the officer said he had compiled the report a few days after the arrest and that he had printed the map three or four days before today's sitting.

After the car was stopped, police searched Azzopardi and his car, but no drugs were found, confirmed the witness. 

The defence asked that the accused's bail request be discussed in court in the next sitting after the last witnesses are heard. The case was adjourned to 17 August.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Charles Mercieca are defence counsel to Azzopardi in these proceedings.