MaltaToday, 16 April 2008 | Maltese man charged with human trafficking freed


NEWS | Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Maltese man charged with human trafficking freed

Charlot Zahra

A Maltese man extradited to Italy to face human trafficking charges in connection with the smuggling of Turkish immigrants from Malta to Sicily five years ago was set free after the Modica courts accepted his request to declare the proceedings against the man as void.
John Xuereb’s lawyer, Salvatore Campisi, said the accused did not receive a notification about the conclusion of the investigations against him.
Xuereb, 61, is from St Paul’s Bay. His lawyer said the two other defendants residing in Malta who have still not been extradited to Italy – Turkish national Aslan Yilmaz, 46; and Algerian national Ferhat Guellouma, 56 – had been “recently freed by the Maltese authorities and it would therefore be difficult to find them”.
The three-judge panel requested Interpol to proceed with the extradition of the two men.
Superintendent Sandro Gatt, head of the Correctional Facility (CCF), had confirmed to MaltaToday that Yilmaz was freed from prison after being granted bail on 28 December last year, a day after he was arraigned in court in connection with the extradition proceedings.
However, Guellouma – whose extradition has already been granted by the Maltese courts – was still in prison serving a five-year sentence for human trafficking.
The other three defendants are Tunisian nationals Sadok Bougmini, 45, and Maktouf Farkat, 38; and Turkish national Murath Kalas, 40. Bougmini was assisted by defence lawyer Raffaele Drago, Farkat by Enrico Platania, while Kalas was assisted by Giovanni Giurdanella. The trial has been adjourned to 30 April.

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