Jordan Azzopardi rented out Madliena apartment for €3,500 a month, court hears

The case against alleged drug trafficker Jordan Azzopardi continued in court on Wednesday

Jordan Azzopardi was escorted to court amid tight security
Jordan Azzopardi was escorted to court amid tight security

Alleged drug kingpin Jordan Azzopardi would pay €3,500 in rent every month for a villa he rented out, a court heard as the compilation of evidence against the 29-year-old continued on Wednesday.

Azzopardi stands accused of crimes relating to drug trafficking following a surveillance operation which culminated in police raids on a number of properties. 

He appeared in court amidst the usual tight security as the compilation of evidence him continued.  

A salesman at a confectionery was the first person to take the witness stand, explaining how on 13 March, a gentleman had tried to pay for three soft drinks with a €100 banknote which wasn’t accepted as it was suspicious. The customer was a bald, old man, he said. 

A cashier at a Sliema shop told the court an identical story. “When I held it up to the light it didn’t have the right marks. When I squashed it up, it was like squashing a regular paper,” said the witness. She had not accepted the banknote and the man had left the shop, empty handed.

READ MORE: Drug kingpin Jordan Azzopardi used Wardija farmhouse as drugs lab, court hears

Architect Reuben Vassallo, son of construction magnate Zaren Vassallo, who is the owner of the villa which was rented out to a Kelly Barrows. “We rented it out for a year,” he said.

Vassallo told the court that Azzopardi would pay €3,500 in rent every month.

He had been present for a number of searches at the villa. There’s a cave near the villa and rubble walls were searched. Some money in a bag was found, Vassallo said. The gardener had told them that there was a sock with some suspicious material and the police had been called.

Vassallo also told the court there had been a dispute with the tenant over some damage to the Jacuzzi worth €3,500.

The complex’s gardener pointed out the accused as living at the complex.

Next to take the stand was a man who would buy cocaine from a certain Ramirez who said he would have problems with Azzopardi.

He said that on one occasion he was beaten up by the accused and two others because they suspected him of leading their customers to someone else. The drugs sold were always Jordan’s, he said.

The witness was evasive on the stand when asked about the place in Marsa, near the factories, where he would buy the drugs. The place belonged to Azzopardi as he would come there sometimes, the witness said.   

He said he had suffered damage to his eye after the beating and his vision was still blurred.

A sergeant from the Drugs Squad testified about the arrest.

A certain Mario Abdilla and Azzopardi’s female companion who has also been charged, were found in his car, she said.

She exhibited a number of banknotes and a large bag of coins which were found in various locations in Azzopardi’s home. The keys of a Range Rover, a Mazda, a knuckleduster and a stun gun taken from the man’s box room were also exhibited.

Arthur Azzopardi, one of Azzopardi’s two lawyers, asked for his request for bail filed on 28 March to remain pending for the time being and be dealt with at a later stage.

Lawyer Alfred Abela asked whether there were any further witnesses left with regards to the female co-accused. The inspector replied that the remaining witness was an inmate at CCF, as well as court experts. He objected to bail nonetheless as the investigation was still ongoing.

Abela argued that the gravity of the crime was insufficient to justify the withholding of bail. In order for this to happen, there must be a manifest fear of tampering with evidence or that the accused would abscond, said the lawyer. "Here we have a woman with five children who all live in Malta, she has a stable job...the civilian witnesses have all testified."

The court will decree on bail from chambers. The case will continue on 24 April.

Inspector Justine Grech and Mark Mercieca prosecuted

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela appeared for the accused.

READ MORE: Three charged after fake banknote investigation uncovers drugs, weapons and violence