Updated | Three arrested in Paola during a routine traffic check remanded in custody

Trio arrested in Paola after being found in possession of a significant quantity of narcotics, plead not guilty to all charges

Three men have been charged with the aggravated possession of several controlled substances which were found, concealed, in their car when it was stopped at a roadblock on Monday.

Police Inspectors Paul Camilleri, Antonello Magri and Kurt Farrugia charged Hungarian nationals Adam El Haddoudi, 37, Jaeckel Tamas, 38 and Gabor Gyorgy Rusz, 35, with the possession of cocaine, cannabis grass and resin, magic mushrooms and ecstasy.

Inspector Camilleri told magistrate Charmaine Galea that the men had been inside a car that was pulled over at random at a roadblock that was being manned jointly by the police and the AFM. The inspector was called to the scene after suspicious-looking substances were spotted inside the vehicle. The police had spoken to Tamas, who was the only English speaker among the trio.

A magisterial inquiry was set up, and an expert appointed to establish what the various sachets of substances, which had been hidden under the floorboard, contained. 

They were found to consist of 4 grams of cocaine, 91 grams of cannabis grass, 90 grams of cannabis resin, 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 11 ecstasy pills and 12 viagra pills. €2,000 in cash were found in the possession of one of the defendants, added the inspector.

(Photo: Police)
(Photo: Police)

Right up to the time of arraignment, the defendants had not provided their addresses to the police, he said. Health records showed Tamas used to reside at addresses in San Gwann and Attard but he had refused to give his current address. The other two men were unable to remember the name of the hotel where they were staying, he said.

(Photo: Police)
(Photo: Police)

More ominously, the court was told that a scene of crime officer had discovered a tracking device concealed amongst the drugs. That officer had also informed the inspector that, while the police were removing the drugs from the defendants’ vehicle, another car had been noted circling around the block several times. Its number plate had not been noted down, however.

All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Lawyer Jose Herrera suggested that the police had not yet established who was carrying the drugs.  “If drugs are found on a bus, are all the passengers to be remanded in custody?” asked the lawyer. “I think the police should first establish who hid the drugs.”

Herrera requested bail, saying that his client could provide a fixed address and had a pending offer of a security-related job in Malta. 
The amount of drugs found were small, he said, pointing to what he described as the current lively political and social discussion about proposed amendments to laws on drug possession. 

“He came to Malta on holiday and made friends with a group of guys. Is he supposed to be remanded in custody because he was in the same car as them? In the defence’s opinion it is totally unsafe for a court to do so,” argued the lawyer.

Lawyer Franco Debono added that the amounts were “so small that they didn’t even need the amendments, but were drug court territory.” He endorsed Herrera’s argument that there was no proof about who actually owned the drugs. Earlier this week people charged with trafficking half a kilogram of heroin had been granted bail, he said.

Some time after retiring to chambers to prepare her decree on bail, the magistrate rejected the bail request, ordering the defendants to be remanded in custody.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb were defence counsel to Tamas and Rusz. while lawyer Jose Herrera assisted El Haddoudi.