Wanted man tells court he was working at Presidential Palace while on the run

The man skipped bail on theft charges but was recognised while installing a balustrade at the Presidential Palace

Updated on Tuesday 7 November 8:30am 

A man wanted by the police after skipping bail on theft charges was recognised while installing a balustrade at the Presidential Palace, a court was told today.

Tristan Farrugia Tedesco, 27, of no fixed abode, was arraigned before Magistrate Elaine Merceica on Monday, accused of breaching bail conditions that he had been placed under in June and November 2022. He was also accused of resisting the police at the Birkirkara police station in October, failing to obey their orders and interfering in the execution of their duties. He was also charged with causing voluntary damage to the lockup at the Police HQ in Floriana, yesterday, by breaking a lamp.

Farrugia Tedesco, his right leg in a plaster cast, hopped into the courtroom without crutches. He told MaltaToday that he had broken his own leg while in police custody by kicking his cell door while suffering from severe drug withdrawal symptoms.

Inspector Clayton Camilleri, prosecuting together with Inspector Joseph Mallia, told the court that the defendant had not signed his bail book for the past few weeks, which led to two arrest warrants being issued in connection with ongoing criminal proceedings against him.

At the same time, Farrugia Tedesco is also being investigated for further thefts, the inspector added.

The defendant, who is understood to have evaded police pursuit both on the roads and across the rooftops, turned himself in at a police station yesterday on the advice of his lawyer.

On at least two occasions, the police had chased him across rooftops, the court was told. “There were a lot of these incidents and Tristan eventually called up his lawyer to say that he had had enough.” Farrugia Tedesco also had an acute drug problem, Inspector Camilleri explained.

Asked by the court as to whether he was currently employed, he said he had just been stopped from working at the Presidential Palace. “They stopped me from working,” he told the court today. “I was working for [President] George Vella, installing some balustrades, but because I was wanted they called me up and told me not to go to work.” After the sitting was over, Farrugia Tedesco told MaltaToday that he had been employed by a contractor and was told not to report for work anymore by the President himself, although this claim could not immediately be verified.

The defendant initially pleaded guilty to the charges, but appeared uncertain after the court warned him that his bail security money - a total of some €15,000 - in his other cases could be confiscated if he did.

Defence lawyer Noel Bianco explained that Farrugia Tedesco had a drug problem and wanted to be treated during his incarceration. “I never took drugs when I was in prison,” piped up the defendant. “I’ve been trying to quit for 7 years. I’m tired.” The court pointed out that this did not mean that he had to plead guilty and that there were other treatment options available to him.

After consulting with Farrugia Tedesco once again, Bianco informed the court that his client would be withdrawing his admission and pleading not guilty. The defence informed the court that bail was not being requested at this stage because the defendant required treatment for drug addiction which would be better administered in a controlled environment.

He asked the court to recommend the director of CCF to provide Farrugia Tedesco with the necessary medical assistance and to begin the rehabilitation process. The prosecution did not object to the requests, which were subsequently upheld by the court.

Wanted man 'never employed by Office of the President'

In a statement reacting to the story, the Office of the President clarified that the man was never employed by the office but was hired by a private contractor. 

"According to the architect in charge of the ongoing works at Sant'Anton Palace, the mentioned person was hired by a private contractor and without notice to deliver material to people doing works in the Palace."

"The Office of the President has never had an employment relationship with the mentioned person."