Qormi man charged with illegally importing seven shotguns from Libya

The 26-year-old was found to have four shotguns strapped to his body when he was stopped by police in Luqa last week

James Azzopardi, 26, of Qormi was granted bail after pleading not guilty to illegally importing and transporting firearms.

Inspector Saviour Demicoli told the court that at around 2:30pm on the 3 February, Azzopardi was stopped in Luqa by the police, upon suspicion of importing illegal weapons.

Upon inspection the police found four Torun Silah Sanayi 12-gauge pump action shotguns, strapped to his torso and back. 20 cartridges were also found in the vehicle. Further investigations also revealed that the Daewoo vehicle driven by the accused was also unlicensed.

The investigation subsequently extended on board cargo vessel MV Saint Roch, which had arrived at the Malta Freeport from Libya the day before. Azzopardi served as a crew member on this ship. Three more shotguns, identical to the ones found in the car, were found in Azzopardi's possession onboard the ship. The MV Saint Roch performs regular visits to and from Tripoli and Misurata, in Libya.

The total value of the firearms is €1,575 and that of the ammunition was €3.60.

Inspector Demicoli accused Azzopardi with illegal importation of firearms, illegal transportation of same firearms, driving an unlicensed vehicle, breaching the terms of a suspended sentence, committing an offence while under an order of Community Work, evading tax and duty and relapsing.

The accused pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli granted bail to the accused against a personal guarantee of 8000Euro.

Lawyers Michael Sciriha, Lucio Sciriha, Franco Debono and Angie Muscat appeared for the accused.

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