Maltese drug trafficker awarded €6,000
John Camilleri was yesterday awarded €6,000 by the European Court of Human Rights after declaring that Maltese law was “not foreseeable enough”.
In a chamber judgment in the case Camilleri v. Malta the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Article 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the discretion of the public prosecutor to decide in which court to try a drug trafficking case and therefore the punishment bracket (six months to ten years if tried in the court of Magistrates, or four years to life if tried in the Criminal Court).
The court found that Maltese law was not sufficiently foreseeable in that it did not provide for any guidance on what would amount to a more serious offence or a less serious one.
Mr Camilleri was found guilty on November 16, 2005, before Malta’s Criminal Court of possession of illegal drugs (Ecstasy) and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment and a €35,000 euro fine.
Mr Camilleri brought constitutional redress proceedings, complaining that the discretion of the public prosecutor under Maltese law to decide in which court to try an accused ran counter to the impartiality requirement of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Civil Court rejected his complaint.
On appeal, on February 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court confirmed the Civil Court’s judgment. It held in particular that the power of the public prosecutor to choose the forum in which to try the accused did not give him the powers of a judge, essentially because the public prosecutor had no control over the finding of guilt or innocence of an individual.
The court held that Malta was to pay the applicant €1,000 in respect of nonpecuniary damage and €5,000 in respect of costs and expenses.