Bagtesh Muka, the brother of the main suspect in a shocking double murder, has been released on bail for his part in a violent armed robbery of a jewellery store due to extensive delays in court proceedings.
Muka was arrested on 29th January 2019 and was put behind bars pending his case. However, the compilation of evidence has dragged on 20 months later, forcing the courts to grant Muka bail.
Muka will be required to sign the bail book twice a day and will be placed under house arrest between 9pm and 7am.
The heist dates back to 5th October 2017 after the Muka brothers held up Diamonds International in Tigne’. The stole a total of €330,000 in goods.
Daniel Muka was arrested a week later, attempting to shoot three police officers in the process. However, his brother remained on the run.
Twenty months later and Muka was released on bail. A few months later, he allegedly gunned down Chris Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski in their home.
Pandolfino, who was found in his underwear, was shot five times in the doorway of the home. Maciejowski was found with one bullet to the head on the staircase in between the first and second landing. Police believe Maciejowski rushed downstairs upon hearing the commotion.
Police believe that the motvie behind the double murder was petty theft. Pandolfino’s necklace was even found on Muka when he was arrested.
Daniel Muka is currrently behind bars for his role in the murder and has even been caught trying to escape from Malta’s prison.
While figures for the length of criminal cases is not immediately available, a 2020 EU study of Malta’s courts found that its delays are some of the longest in Europe.
It takes an average of 2,250 days to resolve a money laundering case, 1,100 days to resolve a civil suit if it goes to appeal, and 1,000 days for administrative matters. In each instance, Malta tops the list by some margin.
Some compilations of evidence in criminal cases take decades, with Lovin Malta recently shedding light on the case of Mason Nehls, the youth who has been waiting 11 years for his case to be heard in court.
A compilation of evidence must be concluded within one month, according to Maltese law, but the rule is seldom followed. Extensions are regular and Malta’s courts are obliged to release a person on bail if a bill of indictment is not issued, with the presumption of innocence reigning supreme.
Indeed, suspects can only be kept in prison for a maximum of 20 months before their trial begins if they are charged with an offence that carries a maximum prison sentence of nine years or more. The maximum time limit is reduced to 16 months if their alleged crime carries a maximum sentence of between four to nine years and to 12 months if it carries a sentence of less than four years.
The rule almost let the alleged killers in the Daphne Caruana Galizia walk free, with the Attorney General only issuing the bill of indictment at the eleventh hour.
Delays should not be a major surprise, with lawyers regularly deferring cases and creating significant backlogs in Malta’s courts. Meanwhile, human resources remain worryingly low with Malta having some of the lowest number of judges per 100,000 inhabitants, despite having one of the largest number of lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants.
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