UPDATED: 17 August 2021, 11:45

Read reports of the release of Jordan Azzopardi accused of “masterminding a nationwide drug distribution network and facing 15 charges which include trafficking heroin, cocaine and cannabis”.

He’s been in prison in preventive custody since he was arrested in 2019.

The police believe he’s a drug lord and the evidence against him is compelling. But the interminable criminal process in Malta means that their success in taking him off our streets has now been frustrated by his right – which no doubt he has – not to be kept indefinitely in detention if a court has not yet been persuaded of his guilt.

Now the snail’s pace of our justice system is no longer an inconvenience for alleged drug lord Jordan Azzopardi. It has become in his case, an inconvenience to the witnesses in the case against him, and to the prosecutors and the investigators who have stuck their necks out to nail him. Inconvenience is not the right word. I think the word I’m looking for is danger.

The court granted Jordan Azzopardi bail against a personal guarantee of €150,000 and a third-party surety of €50,000.

If I was in Jordan Azzopardi’s place I would never be able to deposit such a guarantee. But then again, I’ve never trafficked heroin or cocaine.

Which takes me to my next question. Does the court teller accept an envelope with €150,000 in cash without asking where the money’s from? Anyone trying to deposit €5,000 in cash at a bank knows they’re made to run the gauntlet first to prove the money got to them fair and square. If you walk into a notary’s office with that sort of money to purchase property, you would (or should be made to) walk out with it again.

Do the courts mind if alleged criminals use blood money to bail themselves out? Or are the courts happy to launder drug money?

Update at 11:45. Since May 2021, the courts accept up to €5,000 in cash which means that the balance of the bail bond will need to have cleared the banking system before it is accepted by the Court.

I have another question. Jordan Azzopardi is being represented, among others, by Joe Giglio whose credentials as a criminal defence attorney are undoubted. But Joe Giglio is also now a political candidate seeking election to Parliament.

I will be told I’m debating everyone’s right to representation. I’m not. Even a poor, misunderstood drug baron is entitled to a lawyer. I’m debating whether political parties should be offering us for our representatives people who also represent drug lords.

And do drug lords pay their lawyers in cash?

Another point. Not that Yorgen Fenech is endowed with greater or lesser rights than Jordan Azzopardi. And in Yorgen Fenech’s case there’s the added complication that it is far from clear that in the case of the murder he has been charged for, all persons that may have been involved have already been charged.

But Yorgen Fenech will argue – and is indeed arguing – that he too has been under arrest since 2019 and a date for his trial is nowhere in sight. He will argue that he can deposit any sum of money to bail himself out, especially if he’s not asked where it came from.

Yorgen Fenech will claim it is time for him to go home and deliver his threats and his bribes personally rather than use university professors and precocious lawyers for the purpose.

Signed, your justice system.