A Constitutional Court has ordered the suspension of an ongoing criminal case presided over by the Chief Justice until a separate constitutional case involving the same person is decided.
The case involves Christopher Bartolo, a Gozitan father and kidney disease patient. The circumstances in his case even led to an extraordinary decision by Malta’s former Cabinet to have him released on temporary bail back in 2018.
Bartolo was set to return to court in January to possibly return to jail as part of a criminal case against him where he is being accused of trafficking cannabis. However, with less than a month to go before that, Judge Toni Abela today ordered the criminal case to be suspended until his ongoing constitutional case is first completed.
The decision is being hailed as “huge” by legal experts, and gives a new lease of life to a man whose case has raised several red flags.
Among the key arguments made by Bartolo’s lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were the facts that Bartolo’s statements were taken under circumstances that violated his fundamental human rights and that his right to a fair hearing had also been violated.
Bartolo, a renal failure patient, was first interrogated by police without a lawyer present, giving a statement right after he had been picked up by officers as he was leaving a five-hour dialysis session at Mater Dei and was in a vulnerable position.
Bartolo was sent to prison, where he lost one of his transplanted kidneys, allegedly due to not being given the appropriate medicine while locked up.
Bartolo and his partner Rachel recently had a baby boy together and Rachel even opened up a new cafe, but the ongoing case is casting an omnipresent shadow over their everyday lives.
Now, all eyes turn towards the Constitutional Court to see where they will take Bartolo’s case.