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Ray Pace case: Desira says Judge Quintano 'acted strangely'

Convict knew of long prison sentence before it was imposed

Darren Desira, a convicted drug pusher who is at the heart of the Judge Ray Pace bribery case told a court today that he had known he would be jailed for 18 years well before Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano handed down the sentence.

He also said in court that the judge had ‘acted strangely' while presiding over his case.

Two men, Raymond Caruana and Sandro Psaila, have been accused of attempting to bribe former Judge Pace in order to use his influence for a long prison sentence to be imposed on Desira. Dr Pace, himself stands accused of bribery and trading in influence. He resigned in December and is out on bail.

During today’s sitting, Mr Desira said that when his case was appointed, he instructed his lawyers to contact the Attorney General’s office with a plea bargaining proposal on admission.

Dr Aaron Bugeja, representing the Attorney general’s office, offered 15 years imprisonment. Mr Desira said this was on the high side since co-defendants with more involvement had been jailed for less.

Mr Desira said he knew Sandro Psaila through Raymond Caruna.

Caruana pestered him about wanting him to meet judge Pace and used to ask him to call at his restaurtant, where, he said, he would introduce him to the judge.

Desira said he repeatedly refused, saying he felt out of place and he had confidence in his lawyers.

At one time, when the date of his court sitting had been set, Mr Desira said he met Mr Psaila. At that time he had not told anyone of the date, yet Mr Psaila already knew it.

Then, before the judgement was handed down, he heard that Raymond Caruana was saying that he would be jailed for more than 18 years.

During the sitting, he started thinking about this because the presiding judge, Lawrence Quintano was ‘acting stranegely’ and not paying attention. He appeared to be in a hurry.

Mr Desira said he had even remarked to one of his escorting officers, before the sentencing, that he would get 18 years, and that came true.

It was also strange that the sitting was meant to start at 1.30 p.m. but began 45 minutes late.

Lawyer Joe Giglio told the court said that he is appearing for Darren Desira as parte civile because he was negatively affected from this case since he was jailed.

Lawyer Joe Mifsud objected to Darren Desira being classified as a parte civile because the charges did not show any victim and having him as a victim goes against the law.

The prosecution led by police superintendent Norbert Ciappara said that there was already a court application for him to be submitted as an interested party as a victim.

Dr Giglio said that the corruption had happened and his client, therefore was affected negatively and as such he was a victim.

Dr Mifsud said that the judge who handed down the judgment against Mr Desira was still a serving judge and there was no doubt, at least until today, of his credentials.

Lawyer Giannella De Marco, said that there were phone calls to show how the judge (Ray Pace) asked Sandro Psaila if he was satisfied with the 18 years, even going as far as saying that Lawrence Quintano was Ray Pace's friend. Darren Desira was jailed for more than he was supposed to. The point at issue was how Dr Pace had tried to influence the judgment, that was why Mr Desira was a victim.

In response, Dr Mifsud said that this was an interpretation of the tapes. Judge Quintano was not the accused here. There were no doubts about Dr Quintano and ‘god forbid’ that there were such doubts.

Interjecting Dr De Marco asked: "who is saying that there are no doubts?"

Magistrate Neville Camilleri decreed that the lawyers could appear parte civile.

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