Libyan cleared of smuggling drugs into prison in his mouth

The prison cell was searched on February 20, 2009, turning up a small block of low-quality cannabis resin

A court has cleared a Libyan man of smuggling drugs with him into prison, after it held that reasonable doubt remained as to his guilt.

Tripoli-born Diaeddin Arab, 50, had been charged with possession of cannabis resin, trafficking cannabis and attempting to smuggle the substance into the Corradino Correctional Facility.

Arab had been placed in a six-bed dormitory with two other prisoners, Tarek Mahmoud and Kingsley Wilcox, who had both been sharing the area before the arrival of the accused.

The cell was searched on February 20, 2009, turning up a small block of low-quality cannabis resin on Tarek Mahmoud’s bedside table.

Mahmoud had owned up to that the cannabis was his and said that the accused had given it to him the day before. He also said that the accused had also smoked with him.

Wilcox had confirmed Mahmoud’s version during the inquiry, but denied smoking the drug.

The accused had consistently denied the charges.

The deciding factor in this case was the credibility of the witness, noted Magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia. The court had to choose between Mahmoud’s version, or that given by the accused.

In his statement, Mahmoud had claimed that the accused had told him that he had brought in some “smoke,” shortly after the accused had arrived in the dorm and a few days prior to the incident. Arab had asked him what the system was like “when it came to smoking weed, because of the prison guards,” he alleged.

According to Mahmoud, the accused had smuggled the button-sized bag of cannabis resin past the guards in his mouth.

Mahmoud had smoked it once with the accused and once on his own on the day of the search, he claimed denying ever bringing drugs into prison.

The accused explained that he had used to abuse drugs before his conviction but had stopped when diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

During the inquiry, the court had believed Mahmoud’s version and noted that his testimony had been corroborated by Wilcox. Wilcox was an independent witness, observed the court, and had no reason to lie.

“However we are speaking about criminal matters, and as such the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt”. Reasonable doubt existed, with regards toMahmoud’s version, held the court, as it is very difficult for a prisoner to bring drugs into prison due to the security measure in place. When a prisoner does manage to bring drugs into prison, it would be worth its weight in gold, noted the magistrate.

“In this context, the court finds it hard to believe that a prisoner, who had arrived just the day before would immediately trust two prisoners.”

It also noted that it would be hard for a prisoner to smuggle in cannabis into prison in his mouth.

The court cleared Arab of the charges, highlighting the fact that Wilcox and Mahmoud had been residing in the same dormitory together for a number of months, and were presumably friends.  

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia represented Arab.