Two men who walked away free despite being caught with almost 20 kilos of cannabis shortly after their arrival in Xemxija by speedboat have had their sentence confirmed on appeal.
Godfrey Gambin, a former barman from Iklin, was arrested in July 2010 together with Libyans Adel Mohammed Babani and Nabeil Ibrahim Saleh following a police operation, standing accused of importing 19.4 kilos of cannabis resin.
Saleh, who was granted bail in 2012 after spending 22 months in preventive custody, is again at large having, likely absconded to Libya shortly after his release.
Issues in the case erupted on the very first sitting of the trial, after the first witness to testify – former Assistant Commissioner of Police Neil Harrison – revealed that the arrest came following a controlled delivery after one of the men on the speedboat had come forward.
This detail only emerged six years after their initial arrest and following the compilation of evidence.
The person who gave the tip-off never testified in court. Meanwhile, no money or further evidence that the men were involved in trafficking were found at their residences, meaning the testimony would have been essential.
Lawyer Franco Debono and Mario Mifsud, who had represented the men in the first trial, had pounced on the glaring issue after it presented severe questions about the legitimacy of the investigation.
Gambin and Babani were set free on 4th May 2016, celebrating jubilantly. However, Attorney General Peter Grech appealed the decision, arguing that the men were set free on a legal technicality and not on the facts of the case.
The courts, however, disagreed with Grech’s assertion, highlighting that the proper procedure when conducting controlled deliveries is crucial in such cases.