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Court hears of links between Judge Pace, Psaila and Caruana

Judge Pace (in rear seat) being taken to court on Thursday.

Judge Pace (in rear seat) being taken to court on Thursday.

Prosecutors this morning told a court how phone interceptions had shown a link between Judge Ray Pace and Raymond Caruana and Sandro Psaila, who were being investigated in drug-related cases.

Evidence was given at the opening of the compilation of evidence against  Caruana, a 51-year-old truck driver from Zebbug, and Psaila, a 40-year-old restaurateur of Valletta, who are accused of having attempted to bribe Judge Ray Pace.

(Psaila is undergoing separate drugs proceedings.)

The two were arraigned on Thursday, an hour before Judge Pace was himself arraigned and accused of bribery and trading in influence.

Judge Pace resigned from the Bench on Saturday.

Police superintendent Paul Vassallo told the court that on December 11 he and other police officers were summoned to the office of the Police Commissioner, where they were informed that they would participate in an investigation into suspected bribery of a judge.

They heard recordings of phone intercepts  between Psaila and Caruana where the judge and Darren Desira, a man convicted in a drug case, were mentioned.

Supt Vassallo said Psaila is the part-owner of a restaurant in Qawra where Judge Pace used to eat for free.

In the intercepts Psaila and Caruana discussed how Darren Desira's jail term could be increased.

One of the intercepts was from Judge Pace to Psaila informing him that Desira had been jailed for 18 years.

Asked whether money was exchanged, Supt Vassallo  said that when Pace informed Psaila about Desira's prison term, the reply to the judge was 'I will give them to you'.

Supt Vassallo said this had been a straightforward case for the police.

(Desira was jailed for 18 years by another judge - Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano, who is expected to be a witness for the prosecution) 

The court was told that connections between Caruana, Psaila and the judge also involved other people, including mechanics and the installer of a CCTV system outside Judge Pace's home.

There were also connections between Caruana and Psaila and the judge including a Mini Cooper bought for Lynn Pace, Ray Pace's wife, mechanics who repaired  the car and a contractor of CCTV.

Clinton Grima, an importer of second hand cars told the court that 18 months ago he had sold a Mini Cooper to Lynn Pace, the judge's wife, for €13,500.

He explained that he had an agreement with with another man from whom he had bought a garage and owed him money.  

After he sold the car to Mrs Pace, he got a phone call from this man who told him that the money paid by the judge's wife would be deducted from what he was owed for the garage. 

Another mechanic, Joseph Borg of Msida, said the Mini Cooper had developed a fault which he had repaired.  Caruana collected the car and told him he would pay him.

The Head of Security Service, Godfrey Scicluna, exhibited warrants authorising the phone tapping from last August.

He said that the person who had installed the CCTV system could not give evidence at this stage because he was involved in a court case because he did not charge VAT. 

Francis Caruana told the court that he owed money to Raymond Caruana over the registration of a vehicle. He said that Raymond Caruana had demanded immediate payment of €2,000  warning him that he would suffer the same fate as Darren Desira.

Caruana and Psaila were granted bail against a deposit of €5,000 and a personal guarantee of €10,000.

 

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