Italian drug fugitive arrested in Malta while filing police report

A man was denied bail due to the fact that he had been under a criminal sentence when he left Italy 

Vespa was arrested at the Naxxar police station on Monday when he went to make a report of damages to his vehicle, after his name was flagged by the Schengen Information Alert System
Vespa was arrested at the Naxxar police station on Monday when he went to make a report of damages to his vehicle, after his name was flagged by the Schengen Information Alert System

An Italian fugitive, who was arrested in Malta while filing a police report about damage to his car, is fighting extradition to serve a prison sentence in Italy for trafficking drugs.

Fabio Vespa, a 32-year-old Naxxar resident had been convicted and jailed for two years and 27 days for drug offences in Italy before 2012, subsequently being charged with importing hemp and possession of cannabis in 2012, for which he was jailed for two years, a sentence confirmed on appeal last January.

The prison authorities had released him on parole at some point, but Vespa was arrested at the Naxxar police station on Monday when he went to make a report of damages to his vehicle, after his name was flagged by the Schengen Information Alert System.

Speaking through a translator, Vespa confirmed that he had been read his rights and given a copy of all the relevant documents in Italian.

Lawyer Michael Sciriha said the accused was meticulously observing the conditions of his parole in Malta. Once he finishes the remaining three months, he would submit to extradition, the lawyer said.

Sciriha told magistrate Gabriella Vella that Vespa's wife lived in Malta and the accused had come to be by her side after she had suffered a miscarriage.

The lawyer said Vespa was not consenting to extradition at this stage and requested bail.

Police Inspector Mario Cuschieri objected to bail, however, pointing out that the man was a fugitive from justice, was being sought by the Italian authorities to serve a prison sentence for a conviction there and had committed a crime in Malta during this time.

Sciriha submitted that the point at issue was that Vespa should finish the judicial process in Malta before being sent to Italy.


“I don't want him to be granted bail to let him escape. If he leaves Malta, he will return to the country that is looking for him. Malta was his safe haven. Can the court risk releasing him on bail. I say that, in the same manner as other courts had granted bail in such situations, imposing a curfew, he should also be released.”

But Inspector Cuschieri argued there was a likelihood that Vespa would repeat his disappearing act in Italy. “Are we to interrupt this man's rehabilitation, therefore?” Sciriha interjected, arguing that, if anything, it should be the parole board who decides this matter.

The court held that although the defence had based its arguments around Vespa's willingness to finish parole in Malta and then submit to extradition, it was not a question for the court to consider at this stage. Magistrate Vella said she needed to also take into account the gravity of the crime for which Vespa had been jailed in Italy and whether he could be trusted not to escape from Malta during the extradition proceedings.

The court, however said it was not at all convinced that these two conditions are satisfied in this case and denied the man bail on the grounds of the serious nature of the crime for which he had been convicted, the fact that whatever his personal circumstances, he had arbitrarily left Italy while under a criminal sentence and that while in Malta, Vespa had committed another crime.

Lawyer Lucio Sciriha also assisted the accused.

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