The lawyers of Christopher Bartolo, the 36-year-old Gozitan man whose deteriorating health made news over the summer, are attempting to have their client freed by invoking a rarely used “special cases” clause in the Maltese criminal code.
Dr Franco Debono, Dr Amadeus Cachia and Dr Marion Camilleri have now used Article 574 (2) of the Maltese Criminal Code to ask President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca to show mercy to Christopher as his health deteriorates rapidly.
Under the clause, he could be granted bail due his case being a “special case”, and once freed he could be subject to any conditions that the President saw as “fit to impose”. If he should fail any of these conditions, then “he shall be liable to be re-arrested forthwith”.
Christopher Bartolo is currently waiting for an appeal on his case to be heard in court. However his lawyers are arguing that due to his lost kidney and lack of access to suitable conditions for his health to improve he should be eligible for this rare type of bail.
The lawyers’ request also points out a conflict of interest on the part of the attorney general in this case: the President would seek legal advice from the attorney general on this case in his role of legal advisor to the state, but he is also the public prosecutor that indicted Christopher Bartolo in the first place.
This call comes amid a national debate on drug law reform, with politicians on both sides on the house saying that a change is needed in the way cannabis is treated in Maltese society, with the loosening of laws seemingly on the way.
Christopher Bartolo had admitted to possession and cannabis trafficking charges and was given a five-year sentence. However, his interrogation may have not been in line with EU human rights after it was revealed he was questioned directly after a lengthy dialysis session, and his lawyers have made a strong case out of his personal need for the cannabis to help ease the pain caused by his kidney disease.