Alleged drug kingpin received phone calls from within prison before his arrest, court hears

The Court is to decide in chambers on whether to grant Jordan Azzopardi bail as the compilation of evidence against the alleged drug dealer continued today

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

A court is to decide in chambers on a bail application filed by alleged drug kingpin Jordan Azzopardi, after the prosecution exhibited call recordings from prison inmates to Azzopardi before the latter’s arrest.

The compilation of evidence against Azzopardi and his girlfriend, who cannot be named by court order, continued on Wednesday before magistrate Doreen Clarke with prosecuting Police Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca handing the Court an official copy of phone logs relating to calls made by inmates to Azzopardi.

Mercieca said that call recordings from prison phone booths are kept indefinitely, when asked by defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi.

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

Other witnesses who testified today included a sales representative for the letting company which had leased the Ta’ Liberat farmhouse to the accused. He told the court how he had showed the property to Azzopardi but had not been involved in the signing of the €3,500 monthly lease agreement.

Payment of rent would always be in cash, said the witness, but he could not say who actually made the payments. He had met Azzopardi when there was an issue over late payments of the rent, he said.

A sergeant from the Drug Squad testified to his involvement in four drug raids on properties in Birkirkara, Gzira, Marsa and Pieta’. Police encountered metal doors, stone barricades and acid tanks with traces of suspected heroin around the container openings in all the raids, said the witness.

All premises were closely surveilled through CCTV cameras and monitors, the officer explained.

On the day of Azzopardi’s arrest his farmhouse at St Paul’s Bay had been searched and a number of different calibre rounds of ammunition had been discovered. Also found were five brand new Apple laptops and three IPhones, still factory sealed, in one of the bedrooms.

Ammonia and drug paraphernalia had also been discovered in the search.

Towards the end of the sitting the magistrate heard submissions on bail for Azzopardi, with his lawyer Alfred Abela questioning the validity of the man’s continued arrest at this stage, given that civilian witnesses had testified to the court or had their testimony preserved in the records of the inquiry.

Abela insisted that here was no real fear of Azzopardi absconding or tampering with evidence, saying that that Maltese and EU case law had established that arrest was the exception and not the rule.

Inspector Mercieca retorted that there were civilians who were yet to testify and that the crime was very grave. The prosecution needed additional time to proceed, he said.

The court informed the parties that it would decide on the bail request in chambers.

The case continues next week.

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