Two men can finally close an ugly chapter of their life that had kept them waiting for 23 years to be acquitted of charges related to the theft of toys from a warehouse in 1989.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras ruled that the prosecution had not managed to prove its case against the two men, Emanuel Pace and Paul Sammut.

As she cleared them of the charges, the magistrate pointed out in her judgment that she only started hearing the case in February 2013, after it had bounced from one magistrate to another.

In July 1992, Mr Pace and Mr Sammut were charged with stealing over €2,300 worth toys from a store in Marsa belonging to Tradeways Limited.

According to the police, the theft took place between August 1 and 4, 1989. They started investigating the case after a company director filed a report in March 1990 saying he had seen toys imported by his company for sale at the Marsaxlokk flea market.

Magistrate Galea Sciberras said the prosecution had not managed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the toys had actually been stolen by Mr Pace and Mr Sammut.

The police had based their investigations on witnesses who identified the alleged thieves by their nicknames, but in court they could not confirm whether the men were the same people.

Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha appeared for the two men.

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