A foreign woman residing in Sliema and having Maltese citizenship has been released on bail after having been kept under arrest since last month in connection with a case of money laundering, misappropriation and fraud of 150,000 euro.
Marianna Petropoliac instituted a case in the Criminal Court after being denied bail following a number of objections by the Attorney General, including the fact that she had no tangible ties to the island, proceedings were still at an early stage, a number of witnesses still had to give evidence, there existed a risk of tampering with evidence, and the possibility of her absconding from Malta.
Photocopies were presented in Court of accused’s daughter’s Maltese passport, her parents’ Maltese passports, as well as a hypothec by a local bank and a contract of purchase for an apartment in Sliema by her parents.
Defence lawyers Stefano Filletti, Stephen Tonna Lowell and Arthur Azzopardi argued in Court that accused should be released on bail as there was no reason for her to be detained under arrest since she is a Maltese citizen, the crimes she has carried out are of a serious nature in terms of value but not grave, and the majority of the witnesses have already testified in connection with this case.
Before handing down its decision, the Criminal Court considered the fact that accused is a Maltese citizen with a Maltese passport, resides in Malta and has a daughter who is also Maltese, and for this reason it is not correct that the woman has no ties with Malta, whilst stating that the Attorney General had not given a real reason why he considers accused can abscond.
Although the sum in question is considerable, the crime is serious and accused can end up with a prison sentence, the Criminal Court quoted a sentence by the European Court which states that a crime of a serious nature does not mean accused can be detained under arrest for a long period before a Court verdict is pronounced. Regarding pressure on witnesses and the possibility of tampering with evidence, the Attorney General also failed to provide sufficient evidence in this regard.
In this context the Court acceded to accused’s request, conditional to her attendance in Court for every sitting, her not leaving or absconding from Malta, not changing her address and continuing to reside at her parents’ home.
Accused was also ordered to sign in daily at Sliema Police Station, remain at home between the hours of 9.00 p.m. and 7.30 a.m., refrain from speaking to witnesses, present her passport and identity card in the proceedings, and also committed with a 10,000 euro personal guarantee and a 10,000 euro deposit.