Man acquitted of drug trafficking after police failed to analyse drugs

A man was acquitted of trafficking and using cannabis back in 2010 owing to the fact that the police had failed to test the substances he was caught in posession of

The case goes back to May 2010 when Masoud was found guilty of trafficking cannabis
The case goes back to May 2010 when Masoud was found guilty of trafficking cannabis

Emad Masoud was acquitted of using and trafficking cannabis after the police failed to analyse the substance he had been caught in posession of and could therefore not state, without a doubt, that it was in fact cannabis.

The case dates back to May 2010 when Masoud was found guilty of trafficking cannabis and sentenced to five months imprisonment as well as fine of €550 fine by the first court. 

The Court of Appeal presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, heard how the police, back in 21 May 2010, stopped a Daihatsu Terios at Pendergardens in St Julian’s for having one of the headlights out.  

Upon “acting suspiciously”, the police ordered the driver, Masoud, to exit the vehicle and the car was searched. 

In a drawer under the driver’s seat, police found a packet of Rothmans blue, inside which was a “brown substance”, suspected to be cannabis resin that amounted to 34 grams. 

While investigating Masoud’s residence, the police found a Coca Cola bottle under the sink “in the form of a bong” with suspected traces of cannabis resin amounting to 1.3 grams and a significant amount of Rizla paper. 

Upon his arrest, Masoud had given a statement to the police saying that he abused of cannabis and had only been selling it for a month, buying five pieces at €80 and making a profit of €40, only selling it to friends. 

The first court had decided that despite the fact that the substance hadn’t been analysed, it could rely on Masoud’s own statement confirming the substance was illegal and dangerous. 

However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the statement, despite confirming he had in fact been selling cannabis, was inadmissible since it was given without the defendant’s lawyer, Roberto Montalto, being present at the time.  

Citing the European Court of Human Rights, the court declared that the accused had a right to a lawyer being effectively present while the accused was being interrogated. 

“This court is in no way declaring that the accused’s fundamental human rights were breached, but since these rights were not being exercised by the accused, the court rejects any statement he made when his lawyer was not present,” the court declared. 

The Appeals Court revoked the sentence of the first court, and it liberated the accused.

Inspector Victor Aquilina prosecuted. 

Roberto Montalto was defence counsel.