In separate judgments handed down today, two men accused of drug trafficking charges who faced lengthy prison sentences were handed suspended sentences instead, as a result of amendments to the law.
Jason Abela, 31 and Denis Borg 29 both of Qawra were separately accused of cocaine possession and trafficking. Borg had been arrested in 2007 when cocaine and large amounts of money were found in his car. Abela was taken into custody in 2002 after being observed selling drugs.
Both were found guilty by the courts.
After the introduction of Chapter 537, the Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act in 2015 and its subsequent amendments, the punishment for drug crimes was reduced in some cases.
Had their case been sent for trial by the Criminal Court, the men would have faced a mandatory prison sentence of at least 4 years and a possible life sentence, but under the new law the court of Magistrates was no longer bound to do so.
Magistrate Neville Camilleri, applying the new law, handed both men suspended sentences. Abela was sentenced to 12 months suspended for 2 years and Borg 16 months suspended for 3 years.
Lawyer Joe Giglio, defence counsel to both men, hailed the decisions as “landmark judgments.”
Police Inspectors Norbert Ciappara, Malcolm Bondin and Frank Anthony Tabone prosecuted.
Original article found on The Malta Independent