Two men charged with arms trafficking to Libya

Maltese businessman and Libyan conspired to export 40,000 bullets to Libya.

Thousands of bullets allegedly being exported for militias, were seized in a police sting on a Libyan arms trafficker.
Thousands of bullets allegedly being exported for militias, were seized in a police sting on a Libyan arms trafficker.

A Maltese businessman and a Libyan man were arraigned in court after 40,000 bullets were found in the Libyan's car on Saturday, after weeks of surveillance.

Police officers moved in on the vehicle driven by Feraj Issa Ali Yacoob on Saturday afternoon last week, after it was stopped on Mdina Road, in Attard. Officers found 40,000 bullets alleged en route for Libya.

The 31-year-old man lives in Tarxien and is married to a Maltese woman.

After the find, officers searched the Guns And Catridges shop in Rabat, owned by Michael Azzopardi, 55 of Rabat. Azzopardi is licensed to sell guns and ammunition.

But the officers found a €14,000 in cash hidden inside a cabinet in the shop, as well as an area clearly designated for the reloading of ammunition, both bullets and gun cartridges.

Prosecuting inspector Michael Mallia told the court that the investigation was still underway, with a number of accomplices wanted by the police. However intelligence received had led investigators to believe the suspected accomplices do not reside in Malta. 

The two men were charged with engaging in trade knowing that the goods traded would be used in violence against a civilian population. They were also charged with being part of a criminal organisation and the illegal trade of ammunition.

Azzopardi was further charged with failing to keep records of ammunition he was licensed to trade, and with transferring weapons and ammunition to third parties without the consent of the Commissioner of Police.

Yacoob was also charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit granted bail to both the accused against a deposit of €5,000 and a personal guarantee of €20,000, each. Furthermore the court ordered Yaacob not to communicate with people residing in North Africa other than his family.

Inspectors Michael Mallia and Keith Arnaud prosecuted, while lawyers Mariuska Debono, Joe Giglio and Patrick Valentino appeared for the accused.

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