The Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici has said that his ministry is taking the case concerning Christopher Bartolo seriously, but stressed the importance of patience in waiting for the Attorney General’s decision as to whether Bartolo should be granted bail after a constitutional court threw out his admission of guilt, in comments given to the media.
Bartolo was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in April after he was caught with 167 grams of cannabis. He had been arrested right after spending six hours hooked up to a dialysis machine at Mater Dei hospital.
Some years back, Bartolo had to undergo a kidney transplant surgery due to his failing kidney. He previously stated that cannabis helped him to ease the pain and allow to sleep properly after the medication he was prescribed failed to have the desired effect.
After being interrogated by the police, Bartolo wound up admitting to having trafficked 1.5kg of cannabis, which led him to being sentenced to the five years in prison.
After a request was filed, a Constitutional court ruled that Bartolo’s right to a fair hearing had been violated when he was denied access to a lawyer during the interrogation.
In light of this, the court ordered that his sworn statement be stricken off the record, awarding him the chance to reverse his admission of guilt.
Against this backdrop, Malta’s parliament is set to legalise the use of medicinal products derived from cannabis extracts.
Despite the Constitutional court’s ruling, Bartolo remains in custody after it rejected his request for bail pending the attorney general’s appeal.
Bartolo’s problems do not end there, since upon entering prison, the kidney donated to him began to fail meaning that he has had to make use of dialysis treatment.
In the letter sent to the President, it was stressed that Bartolo was exceptional in the following of previous bail conditions when his criminal trial was underway.
Bartolo’s need for specialised care and unique dietary needs makes him a special case, arguing that this was in fact a “humanitarian” case, reads the letter.
The uncomfortable contrast between Bartolo’s situation where he was imprisoned for using cannabis which he said helped him self-medicate to the Parliamentary debate on legalising medicinal marijuana was pointed out.
Original article found on The Malta Independent