Lawyers of a man arrested in 23 kilograms cannabis drug-raid are crying foul after they were prevented from accessing their client, despite his medical conditions and mild illiteracy.
Wayne Schembri, who is 28-years-old, was arrested with two other men in an operation on 6th October. He was seen removing card boxes from a ship that had just docked in Marsaxlokk harbour at around midnight.
Officers continued to observe the men place the boxes in a van and drive away, whereupon police stopped them.
In court today, defence lawyer Matthew Xuereb raised the issue that he was not granted access to his client on the eve of his arrest, despite repeated calls to police headquarters. He told the court that he was yet to be granted disclosure on the evidence against Schembri.
Schembri, who has no previous criminal record, is a fisherman who suffers a variety of medical conditions. As evidenced in court today, Schembri is also illiterate.
The debate created a tense atmosphere in court, with the prosecution backing their decision to block the lawyer’s access to his client.
The magistrate agreed with the defence, opening up an investigation to establish call logs and other details to back up the claims.
No request for bail was made at this stage.
Glen Montesin, 38 from Ħaż-Żabbar, was also charged. His lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia requested for bail, insisting that he has a criminal record. The magistrate rejected the request.
Lawyers Alex Scerri Herrera and Mario Mifsud also represented Schembri.
The case comes at a time when Malta is making global headlines due to running out of both medicinal cannabis, which is legal on the island, and black-market cannabis, which many Maltese patients turned to as their prescriptions remained unfulfilled.
The debate surrounding the recreational use of cannabis has gathered steam over the years. But it is yet to develop beyond political rhetoric.
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