Man out on seven bail decrees accused of offering witness €47,000 for false testimony

38-year-old man charged with suborning a witness and breaching his seven bail decrees

Updated with lawyer's reaction

A man out on no less than seven different bail decrees for offences which include drug importation has been remanded in custody on charges of offering €47,000 to a witness to give false evidence in court, conveying that offer through his lawyer.

38-year-old Terence Cini from Qormi was arraigned before Magistrate Nadine Lia on Tuesday, charged with the crime of subornation of a witness in ongoing court proceedings, breaching the conditions of his bail decrees  - the oldest of which dates back to 2011; the latest  granted by the Criminal Court in July 2023 - and recidivism.

Cini pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Police Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca, prosecuting together with Inspector John Leigh Howard, told the court that during a sitting in one of the cases against Cini before Magistrate Ian Farrugia, witness Michael John Mugliette told the court that he did not remember what he had said under oath in 2020, when he had named Cini as being involved in a drug deal.

Mercieca told the court that the police received information that Cini and Mugliette had spoken over the phone while Mugliette was in prison for the crime relating to his 2020 testimony.

During the phone calls, which like all phone calls in prison, were recorded, Cini and Mugliette discussed the court proceedings. Mugliette was recorded as promising not to testify against Cini, in return for the payment of a pending €40,000 fine against Mugliette, in addition to the payment of €7,000 in court costs for the case.

It was noted that lawyer Matthew Xuereb had visited Mugliette in prison on one occasion, when Mugliette had no pending cases that required the services of a lawyer.  

When investigators looked into the reasons for Xuereb’s visit to speak to Mugliett, it emerged that Cini had told Mugliette that he had paid Xuereb and sent him.

A request for bail was denied and Cini was remanded in custody.

The prosecution told the court that there was a possibility of more people being charged in connection with this case. Xuereb is understood to have already been questioned and may face charges.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Alfred Abela were defence counsel to Cini.

Meanwhile, in a statement lawyer Matthew Xuereb insisted that he "volontarily attended to explain each and every detail I am aware of with regards to this case to the police", adding that he will cooperate fully.

"I categorically deny any claim based on hear say. This is simply not true. Fake news," Xuereb said, claiming that as a lawyer he has become the "target of attacks of all kinds" which endanger the "independent and secure exercise" of his profession.

Xuereb said it would be imprudent for him to divulge more detail publically.