Malta’s Attorney General has filed a cross-appeal asking for the removal of compensation granted to a man who spent 15 years in court falsely accused of being a drug trafficker.
This comes after Christopher Mazzitelli and his lawyers filed an appeal saying the €10,000 compensation plus interest was not enough for the trauma he was put through over the better part of two decades.
The office of the AG is now requesting the Constitutional Court to not only not meet the appeal’s requests, but to remove the original compensation package. The office based its argument on the fact that at no point did the accused ask to be compensated for interest lost over the years.
They said it was “unexplainable” how the court had ordered to give Mazzitelli an interest rate of 5% starting from January, 2010 – the date the court case should have ended. His case began back in 2004.
The cross-appeal was signed by lawyer Maurizio Cordina for the Office of the Attorney General.
If the cross-appeal is accepted, the original judgement would be annulled, and Mazzitelli would not receive compensation for his ordeal.
Legal experts expressed surprise at the length the AG was going to with Mazzitelli, making him feel “the full brunt of the law”.
Mazzitelli was never convicted of anything beyond possession of cannabis, for which he was charged because he himself had readily admitted it. For this, he was fined €100.
Back in 2011 – seven years into the case – the same office had requested life imprisonment with solitary confinement for the man. Three years later, in 2014, they removed this extreme request.
Now, they want to have the compensation given to Mazzitelli by a court to be annulled.
If this cross-appeal is upheld, everything Mazzitelli has won so far will be lost, leaving his team with no other option but to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mazzitelli’s case goes back to 2004, when he began working as a mechanic at a garage in Qormi.
Two months into his job, the garage was raided after the police started a surveillance operation into suspected drug trafficking from the garage. The garage’s owner’s two sons were believed to be part of this, and Mark Pace – known as Il-Pinzell – was also involved.
Eventually, five people were arrested – and all five pinned the drugs on young Mazzitelli. Soon after, he found himself charged with being part of a conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Mazzitelli, a cannabis user in his youth, denied the charges. But it didn’t stop him being thrown into an ordeal that lasted the better part of two decades.
In that time, he became a father of two who lived under a strict curfew where he had to be home every evening by nightfall. Till this day, Mazzitelli says he lives with the psychological damage and shame of what he was put through unjustifiably.