Police pressured to prove that cocaine in car belonged to its occupants

Police pressured to prove that cocaine in car belonged to its occupants

Three men were arrested in Kirkop earlier this month

Investigators who thwarted a suspected drug deal in Kirkop earlier this month, have yet to prove who owned 1.5kg kilos of cocaine found in the raid which led to the arrest of two Libyan nationals and a Maltese man.

This fact emerged as the compilation of evidence kicked off on Friday against Tristen Kyle Pisani, 25, of Tarxien, a technician, Annajar Osama Soleman, 40, of Gharghur, a Libyan Embassy employee and Boulqassim Khalleefah Aboulqassim Almigheerbi, 32, of Swieqi, unemployed.

The trio are currently out on bail after pleading not guilty to charges of drug-trafficking conspiracy and possession of cocaine under circumstances indicating that the drug was not for their personal use.

All three were further charged with money laundering activities, while Mr Pisani was separately charged with the possession of cannabis plant and resin, as well as with being a recidivist.

Several members of the Drugs Squad testified on Friday as to how, just hours before the arrests on June 12, the police received confidential information about a drug deal that was allegedly to take place between Mr Pisani and Mr Soleman, with the possible involvement of third parties.

Upon instructions from Inspector Justine Grech, a number of officers set out at around 3pm on the tracks of a Toyota vehicle being driven in the Vjal l-Ewropa in Luqa.

The officers watched from a distance as the two occupants, later identified as Mr Soleman and Mr Khalleefah, stopped the Toyota at a petrol station and emerged from the vehicle to swap seats so that Mr Khalleefah could take the wheel.

The men then proceeded towards Kirkop, the police car following, until they stopped in Vjal l-Industrija where the Toyota came to a stop alongside a black Peugeot.

By then, the officers had called for assistance and circled a chapel nearby to approach the parked Toyota. They discovered that there were three men inside the car: the two Libyans were seated in front while a Maltese man, later identified as Mr Pisani, was sitting at the back.

A search of the Toyota soon yielded a blue bag, placed near the passenger seat and containing €63,000 in cash. An orange bag at the back, next to Mr Pisani, contained a black package inside which was a white powder suspected to be some 1.5 kilos of cocaine.

A search of the other car, the Peugeot, yielded a Nokia phone which Mr Pisani claimed was not his, together with a sachet of white powder.

Later, the homes of Mr Soleman and Mr Pisani were searched but nothing else had been found.

Under interrogation at the police headquarters, Mr Soleman had replied that he did not know how the money and drugs had ended up in his car. The Toyota was registered in the name of his wife, who on that day had allegedly exchanged cars with her husband before going shopping. She also denied any knowledge that the man was involved in drugs.

Mr Pisani had later told the police that third parties had put him in touch with the Libyans for the purpose of buying 4 grams of cocaine. He had also admitted to having a cannabis addiction, the court heard.

“In the course of investigations, have you determined whose drug it was?” lawyer Franco Debono repeatedly asked as a number of officers took the witness stand before magistrate Neville Camilleri. However, these replied in the negative.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Amadeus Cachia and Marion Camilleri are counsel to Mr Almigheerbi and Mr Soleman. Lawyer Roberto Montalto is defence counsel to Mr Pisani. The case continues.