Witness offered €20,000 not to testify, Jordan Azzopardi's girlfriend re-arrested

One of Azzopardi's former clients claims the drug lord's girlfriend offered him money not to testify, court orders the woman's re-arrest 

The girlfriend of alleged drug lord Jordan Azzopardi has been re-arrested after the court heard how she had offered a witness money not to testify
The girlfriend of alleged drug lord Jordan Azzopardi has been re-arrested after the court heard how she had offered a witness money not to testify

Alleged drug lord Jordan Azzopardi’s girlfriend was arrested in court today after dramatic testimony in which one of Azzopardi's ex-customers claimed she had tried to pay him €20,000 not to testify.

Jordan Azzopardi and his girlfriend sat side by side in the dock before magistrate Doreen Clarke as the compilation of evidence against them continued on Thursday.

In the previous sitting the court was requested to grant Azzopardi bail, his girlfriend having already been released from arrest prior to that. The request appears to have been dismissed, however, as Azzopardi arrived in court in handcuffs, escorted by a squad of armed prison guards.

A court expert presented Magistrate Doreen Clarke with a transcript of phonecalls received by Azzopardi.

Azzopardi blocked medical help for overdosing customer

Jason Zammit, who is serving a prison sentence in connection with a 2018 drug raid in Gzira, took the witness stand to confirm a statement he had released to the police. In the statement the man said he would consume heroin and cocaine. He pointed out Azzopardi as the person he would buy drugs from in court this morning.

“I had met him in Mosta two and a half years ago, Azzopardi had approached me and offered me a job,” he said. Azzopardi would give him 20g of drugs as a debt and it was up to Zammit to sell and repay him for them. The amounts sold would go up to 100g every three or four days, he said.

“In the beginning he would call me up…sometimes I would go to his garage in Birkirkara.” He was opening another garage in Balzan but there were problems with the landlord, said the witness.

The garage was equipped with cameras. It was like a lotto booth with a grate separating the buyers from the person on the inside, he said.

Azzopardi employed several people to man this garage, he said.

“The last time I went... I had a fit,” he said breaking down into tears. “I had a fit in the garage. There were around 10 people inside and he told them not to call the ambulance… When I came to, Azzopardi was there, reading his accounts. 

Asked if he recalled the names of the other people there, he said ”one guy, Gonzi, had put a spoon in my mouth to stop me from swallowing my tongue.”

The inspector asked him if he had been made to fear anything in prison. He said “no not at all.” “Several prisoners approached me to change my testimony. Jordan sent them to press me. I don’t pay attention…” he said dismissively.

He would sometimes buy drugs from Axel, Jordan’s employee, he added.

Former customer was offered money to lie under oath

The claim of subornation was confirmed by Luke Vella from Zabbar, another of the men arrested in the drug warehouse. The court warned him that he could be incriminated by his testimony, but the man chose to testify anyway.

He described Jordan’s garage in Birkirkara. “They would open [the door], there were security guards and there were several chairs. It was like a Maltapost outlet.” Asked what would be sold there, he said, “Coke, smack a bit of everything.” Azzopardi also operated several other similar garages, in Marsa and Pieta, Gzira, he said.

Azzopardi would bring the drugs to the garage, he said, explaining that he’d known the accused from his days in prison.

I’d go inside and find Josef D’Amato in a cage. Not even an animal deserves that

Azzopardi owned a hunting shotgun, an AK 47 assault rifle and a small machine gun, he said.

Josef D’Amato used to work with him, explained the witness. D’Amato had testified in a previous sitting.

Azzopardi held his employees on a very short leash and they would be locked up for most of the day, Vella went on. “I’d go inside and find Josef D’Amato in a cage. Not even an animal deserves that.”

The witness said that he had been upset at Azzopardi after the latter had used his apartment for drug dealing whilst Vella was in prison and hadn’t paid him for it.

He alleged that Azzopardi’s girlfriend had engaged a certain Mangion to call him up and offer a €20,000 bribe to perjure himself, €10,000 up front and €10,000 afterwards. “I was supposed to meet an intermediary and he would tell me what to say.” Several persons were sent by Azzopardi to offer him money not to testify, he said, including Azzopardi’s son and his girlfriend.

The girlfriend had also threatened to set fire to his car, he said, because she claimed that he had set fire to hers. Vella denied having anything to do with the arson of any of her cars in court today.

As the witness ended his testimony, Inspector Mark Mercieca informed the court that he was going to re-arrest the Azzopardi’s girlfriend on the basis of what he had just heard.

A bail application which was due to be discussed today was taken back by lawyer Alfred Abela.

Inspector Mark Mercieca and Justine Grech prosecuted.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi, Rene Darmanin and Alfred Abela appeared for the accused, while lawyers Anne Marie Cutajar and Matthew Xuereb appeared for the Office of the Attorney General.

The case continues in two weeks' time.