Lawyer protests denial of bail for man accused of cannabis possession

Lawyer Franco Debono said that if his client was presumed innocent of the crime he was being charged with, then he was even more innocent of a presumed breach of bail conditions on the basis of that crime

The man was caught in possession of several cannabis resin blocks
The man was caught in possession of several cannabis resin blocks

There was no release from custody for a man accused of aggravated possession of cannabis and breaching bail this morning.

56-year-old Joseph Rizzo from Fgura was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Gabriella Vella this morning by Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca. Rizzo had been arrested after police observed a drug deal being carried out in Zejtun on Wednesday. He was found to be carrying several blocks of cannabis resin, weighing 186g in total. Other suspects are on police bail.

The accused, who works as a self-employed salesman, pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of cannabis in circumstances suggesting it was not for his personal use and breaching bail.

Lawyer Franco Debono, appearing as defence counsel together with lawyer Marion Camilleri, asked for bail, arguing that aside from the drug possession charge, the man had only been accused of breaching his bail conditions and that this had not yet been proven.

“Unfortunately, sometimes procedures evolve and no one questions them,” said the lawyer.

“If I am presumed innocent for the crime you are charging me with, how much more innocent am I to be presumed of breaching bail on the basis of that crime?” Debono argued, going on to say that it was a “legal impossibility” for this court to find him guilty of this type of breach of bail.

“It is one thing to say he is breaching bail for disobeying a condition and another to say he is breaching bail by committing a second crime.”

The prosecution objected to bail. “He was given bail for committing a drug offence. You have two other people on police bail and there is a real fear of tampering with evidence,” said the inspector.

The court, having heard the submissions on bail by both sides, said that in the light of the charges faced by the accused and the circumstances leading to the man’s arrest - which indicated that there were other persons involved -it would be refusing bail.