Drug traffickers get suspended sentences in 'landmark judgment'

The court applied a new law on drug dependence, which seeks to treat offenders rather than imprison them

(File photo)
(File photo)

In separate judgments handed down today, two men accused of drug trafficking charges who faced lengthy prison sentences were handed suspended sentences instead, as a result of amendments to the law.

Jason Abela, 47, and Denis Borg, 40, both of Qawra were separately accused of cocaine possession and trafficking. Borg had been arrested in 2007 when cocaine and large amounts of money were found in his car. Abela was taken into custody in 2002 after being observed selling drugs.

Both were found guilty by the courts.

After the introduction of Chapter 537, the Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act in 2015 and its subsequent amendments, the punishment for drug crimes was reduced in some cases.

Had their case been sent for trial by the Criminal Court, the men would have faced a mandatory prison sentence of at least four years and a possible life sentence, but under the new law the court of Magistrates was no longer bound to do so.

Magistrate Neville Camilleri, applying the new law, handed both men suspended sentences. Abela was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years, and Borg 16 months suspended for three years.

Lawyer Joe Giglio, defence counsel to both men, hailed the decisions as "landmark judgments." 

Police Inspectors Norbert Ciappara, Malcolm Bondin and Frank Anthony Tabone prosecuted.

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