Court awards man €10,000 in damages for 17-year drugs case

Court decides criminal proceedings against the man took unreasonable amount of time to conclude

(File photo)
(File photo)

The First Hall Civil Court in its Constitutional Jurisdiction has ordered the Attorney General to pay €10,000 in moral damages to a man acquitted of drug trafficking, after deciding that the criminal proceedings against him took an unreasonable amount of time to be concluded.

Antonio Gatt had been the subject of criminal proceedings filed by the police on 23 April 2001, were Gatt was accused of cocaine trafficking. Gatt was eventually found not guilty of all the charges brought against him on the 11 July 2018 – more than 17 years after the commencement of proceedings.

For 15 years, Gatt was subject to bail conditions which included a curfew and having to sign at the police station once a week.

Gatt filed for Constitutional redress against the Attorney General, claiming that his right to a fair hearing had been breached by the unreasonable amount of time which the proceedings took to be concluded.

In a judgment handed down on Thursday, Judge Robert Mangion ruled in favour of Gatt, emphasising that criminal proceedings should not take so long, as this breached his fundamental human rights.

Lawyers Joseph Giglio and Sarah Mifsud appeared for Antonio Gatt.