Updated | Partygoers to be charged with simple possession before a drugs tribunal

Police tell court the majority of the cases connected with the arrests of 27 partygoers will be heard before a drugs tribunal

Police discovered ecstasy pills, cocaine, cannabis and ketamine in searches on partygoers on Thursday
Police discovered ecstasy pills, cocaine, cannabis and ketamine in searches on partygoers on Thursday

The majority of the cases related to the arrests of 27 partygoers at an entertainment establishment in Rabat will be heard before a drugs tribunal.

A court sitting in connection with the arrests was held on Friday.

Duty magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace's relief was palpable as prosecuting police inspector Frank-Anthony Tabone informed the court at the beginning of the sitting that the majority of the accused would be charged with simple possession before a drugs tribunal.

On Thursday, the police said that 27 people attending a dance festival, and whose ages range from 17 to 42, were found to be in possession of drugs including cocaine, cannabis grass, ecstasy pills and ketamine.

Those arrested include a 37-year-old Serbian from St Paul’s Bay, a 21-year-old Russian from Gwardamanga, and two Maltese nationals, a 28-year-old Qormi resident and a 17-year-old woman from Tarxien. The young woman is believed to still be under investigation.

The four were arrested after police discovered around 50 ecstasy pills in circumstances which indicated the drugs were ready to be sold.

Three arraigned in court

Three individuals from the party of 27 did face charges in court, however. They were charged with drug trafficking offences.

Three men were arraigned under arrest, charged with drug trafficking offences following the raid on the party.

Lawyer Graziella Tanti was appointed legal aid to electrician and barman Dusan Stanojevic, 37, of St. Paul’s Bay. Stanojevic was charged with possession of ecstasy in circumstances which denoted that they were not for his personal use.

Tanti said the man was pleading not guilty and was requesting bail. The prosecution did not object to bail in view of the fact that he had cooperated with the police.

Bail was granted against a deposit of €500 and a personal guarantee of €15,000 and ordered to sign a bail book daily. A curfew was also imposed.

Second to be arraigned was Wayne Said, 28, from Qormi, who was charged with the trafficking and possession of ecstasy in circumstances which denoted that it was not for his personal use. He was further accused of doing so within 100m of a club frequented by youths as well as with relapsing.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail was not requested at this stage.

The third accused, Slava Baldacchino, 21, from Pieta, was also accused of conspiracy to traffic ecstasy, trafficking the drug and possession of cocaine. He was also accused of doing so within 100m of a place frequented by youths and relapsing.

Baldacchino pleaded not guilty. His lawyer Yanika Bugeja requested bail.

Inspector Tabone objected to the request, explaining how the accused had been arrested during a spot check at a Rabat establishment. "He was spotted acting suspiciously and heard speaking to third parties, offering them illegal substances. He panicked and tried to leave but was told by the security that he could not go back in again." Baldacchino was arrested shortly afterwards.

His criminal record showed that he was not trustworthy, said the inspector.

The defence argued that the Constitution said bail was a right not a privilege and that the accused was innocent until found guilty. Bugeja explained to the court that Baldacchino had been adopted from Russia and later abandoned, spending some time living on the streets. His criminal record and the problems he had were because he was left homeless by his adoptive parents at a young age, she said.

The Court, however,  said that it was too premature a stage to request bail as there were civilian witnesses yet to testify, but urged the prosecution to bring its witnesses to testify as soon as possible.

Inspector Frank-Anthony Tabone prosecuted all three arraignments.

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