Christopher Bartolo was busy studying in prison for an exam that’s happening today at noon when another prisoner told him his prayers had finally been heard and he was being released.
The man who has no kidneys and was jailed for ‘trafficking’ 167g of weed when he was using the plant to self-medicate, has been begging Maltese authorities to let him out on special bail until his appeals were resolved.
“I wasn’t watching TV at the moment, and another inmate came running in and told me ‘Chris you are released!'”
Lovin Malta spoke to Christopher after his first night out of prison.
“I want to thank everyone that was involved in this decision; I want to thank the President, the Cabinet and Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici. As they already know I have pending procedures in my court case and at this stage common sense won, and I will continue to bow my head to the decisions of the courts as I always did,” he said. “I also want to thank my lawyers Dr Franco Debono and Dr Amadeus Cachia who went out of their way to help me and never stopped believing in my case.”
Christopher, who is currently undertaking a Business course at MCAST, will actually spend his first day out at an exam.
As the cabinet of Malta discussed his fate last night, he was busy studying for a Business Concepts exam, and had even asked an officer for extra hours to get some more reading in earlier in the day.
Then, the decision from above unexpectedly came.
“I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I was told at 7:30 to go to the Head Office because someone from the President’s Office is coming with some papers they needed me to sign,” he said to Lovin Malta.
“I wasn’t watching TV at the moment, and another inmate came running in and told me ‘Chris you are released they just said it on the news!’ and I said ‘how can I be released if I’m standing right here in front of you!”
His first reaction was to call Rachel, his partner and his constant support, because she was due to appear on a discussion on NET TV about his case.
His partner Rachel was overwhelmed with emotion when she got the news, and was thankful to the cabinet for their decision.
“The government has set a precedent where common sense wins,” said Rachel, referring to the fact that his health and physical condition were taken into account when making a decision about his freedom.
Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici spoke to Lovin Malta following the decision, expressing a similar sentiment.
“It was a decision based on independent medical advice we obtained. We did not rush to a decision but once we were convinced it was the right thing to do we took the decision. We’re a humane government,” said Minister Owen Bonnici.
Once cabinet took the decision, their recommendation was sent to the President’s Office, who signed his release.
“I am proud of living in a democracy where justice and mercy are considered as intrinsic values of our Maltese society,” the President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said to Lovin Malta.
“On behalf of Christopher Bartolo I would like to thank the cabinet for this decision as well as the President of the Republic and the Head of the Opposition for the interest he showed. One now needs to respect the seriousness and solemnity of the pending judicial procedures and show full respect towards the independence of the Judiciary,” said Dr Franco Debono, the lawyer representing Christopher.
Christopher will now be placed under temporary bail and will need to follow certain conditions until his court case is finally resolved.