Pain Clinic lawyer sharply criticises prosecution for wasting sitting

Lawyer accuses prosecution of neglecting case after no witnesses were summonsed for a scheduled sitting on Monday

Dr. Andrew Agius (inset)
Dr. Andrew Agius (inset)

Lawyers for Pain Clinic founder Dr. Andrew Agius have accused prosecuting officials of having neglected his case, after no witnesses were summonsed for a scheduled sitting today.

When the case was called this morning, police Inspector John Lee Howard - appearing instead of prosecuting Inspector Marshall Mallia, informed Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras that no witnesses had been summonsed for today’s sitting.

Defence lawyer Steven Tonna Lowell was furious at the fact that the inspector hadn’t turned up in court. “They had the cheek to impose a freezing order, despite the magistrate questioning the necessity of it, and then they don’t turn up for sittings.”

Tonna Lowell contrasted this with the observation that in other cases, “when the Attorney General had actually wanted to move,” progress had been made.  

Meanwhile, the freezing order against his client remained in place, he said.

"His life is ruined," added lawyer Giannella De Marco.

Tonna Lowell asked that the inspector be ordered to testify in reply to an application which had recently been filed by the defence, in which he is asked to identify the amounts earned as proceeds of the alleged criminal activity.

The lawyer said he wanted the inspector to tell the court, under oath, what the supposed proceeds of crime were.

“The only enthusiasm he showed in this case was to request the freezing order.”

Dr. Agius, who also owns Paola’s Pain Clinic, had been arrested in March and charged with drug trafficking, amidst controversy about the legal status of the CBD products the clinic was selling.

Agius’ arrest came as a result of amendments to the Criminal Code legalising the sale of cannabis. The cannabis imported by Agius had less than 0.2% THC and had no intoxicating effects, his lawyers say, meaning that they could be sold legally."They were grown and imported legally in the EU." 

The case comes amidst the confusion caused by the decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts of low-potency cannabis products, but which failed to effectively regulate their sale.

The recent sacking of the chairperson of the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC), psychologist Mariella Dimech, has brought the issue back into the spotlight.  In a statement denouncing the lack of political cooperation in this regard over her 10-month period in the role, Dimech said she had “no functional office, no staff,2 no budget and a political strategy and decision strategy I disagreed with.” 

Lawyers Steven Tonna Lowell and Giannella De Marco are defence counsel.