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No bail for man caught transporting €160,000 cash to Istanbul

Monday August 23, 2021

A Somali national, described in court as a pillar of the Somali community, has been denied bail after being arrested carrying €160,000 on a flight to Istanbul.

Ali Muuse Igaale, 40 was arraigned before magistrate Nadine Lia this morning and charged with failing to declare the cash to the authorities.

Igaale, who the court was informed, also has Sudanese and Maltese passports, was arrested on Sunday morning at Malta International Airport as he attempted to travel to Turkey.

The accused’s lawyers, entered a plea of not guilty and requested bail.

Prosecuting police inspector Oriana Spiteri objected to bail on the basis that the accused had no ties to Malta. “Although he said he had a business, and said he lived here for 8 years, he didn’t know the address of his home or his shop,” she said.

The inspector explained that the accused was caught carrying the undeclared money whilst travelling from Malta to Istanbul. Asked whether the man had a return ticket booked, Spiteri said he had claimed to have a return ticket but had only presented the police with a boarding pass to Turkey.

Lawyer Carl Grech, appearing for Igaale, said the accused had strong ties to Malta and had set up two local businesses in Hamrun – a barber shop and a clothes retailer. “Has been operating them for a number of years,” said the lawyer.

Grech said that the accused was a “very well-known member of the Somali community” and was highly trusted. “He does his utmost for the advancement of the Somali community, helping people find jobs and integrate into society. His ties here are very well rooted,”  said the lawyer.

He explained that the accused had only planned a “very short trip” and pointed out that the charges did not carry the punishment of a prison sentence. Only a monetary fine was envisaged by the law, argued the lawyer, also stating that the accused had no bearing on the witnesses.

The court asked why Igaale could not provide addresses. The defence said he could not translate address to English but had explained where he lived to the police. The Court also asked why Igaale could not provide a door number. “If you’re going to say ‘fully cooperated’ you have to back it up,” observed the court.

Accused travelling with €160,000 to Istanbul for a short trip. During his statement he could not recollect and provide his residence or business address.

The court considered that the accused had “not been able to provide sufficient guarantees with regards to his local ties, notably his businesses and residence.” Bail was refused in view of the fact that there are still witnesses to tender evidence, the charges against the accused and the inability to substantiate his ties and guarantees that would lessen the court’s fears of him absconding.


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