Man charged with drug trafficking claims breach of rights

Absence of legal assistance lead man charged with drug trafficking in 2009 to file constitutional application

Lizio Grech, the man who two days ago was charged with trafficking drugs back in 2009, filed a constitutional application saying that his right to a fair trial was violated when he was not given legal assistance during the investigation.

Furthermore, the accused is claiming that his rights were also violated due to the time that passed since his first arraignment. Grech’s case goes back to 1 May of five years ago.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that “a suspect must be afforded assistance by a lawyer as soon as he is deprived of his liberty, whether or not he is to undergo interrogations. The lack of such provisions constitutes a violation of the accused’s rights, irrespective of the fact that the accused chose to remain silent throughout his custody.

"Given the absence of assistance by counsel, who could provide legal advice and technical skills, the applicant could not make full and knowledgeable use of his rights afforded by the criminal procedural law”.

Moreover the same court decrees that Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights imposes on states the duty to organise their judicial systems in a way that the courts can administer justice without delays which might prejudice its effectiveness and credibility. This is designed to avoid leaving the accused in a state of uncertainty about his faith.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri signed the application.