The case against alleged fraudster Ryan Schembri was adjourned for two weeks on Tuesday after the court was told the businessman was in COVID-19 quarantine.
Prosecutors were to begin compiling evidence against Schembri, a 43-year-old food tycoon who allegedly fled Malta with debts of up to 40 million euros.
Schembri appeared in court remotely, seated in a room at the Corradino Correctional Facility wearing a t-shirt and mask.
Despite this, magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech chose to postpone the case until May 11, once the accused was released from quarantine.
Schembri was arrested in Scotland and extradited to Malta last week. Prosecutors charged him with fraud, money laundering, using forged documents and offering investment services without a license.
He pleads not guilty to these charges.
As it happened
That’s all people
1:14 p.m. A short and uneventful session comes to an end. The case is postponed for two weeks – we will come back next time. Thanks for joining us.
1:08 p.m. The magistrate receives a medical certificate noting that Schembri will be released from quarantine on May 2.
Magistrate Donatella French Dimech takes a look at it, informs the accused and adjourns the case to May 11.
So that’s it – nothing will happen today.
Schembri appearing from a distance
1:04 p.m. Ryan Schembri will not be appearing in court today – he is in quarantine and is therefore appearing remotely. His lawyer, Roberto Montalto, is however in court.
AG lawyer Francesco Refalo and Inspector Anthony Scerri will prosecute.
A screen inside the courtroom is on. Schembri, wearing a t-shirt and a mask, appears.
Rise and fall
12:49 Schembri, 43, had a meteoric rise in the food business and rose to prominence as the owner of More Supermarkets.
But as his business grew, so did his lines of credit. As debts piled up, he and his family quietly fled to Dubai. His attorney told a court during his arraignment that he did so because he feared for his family’s safety.
Schembri was arrested in Scotland on April 15 and extradited to Malta last week.
12:45 p.m. Hello and welcome to this live blog. We are at the Valletta courthouse, where the case against Ryan Schembri begins today.
We expect prosecutors to present their preliminary witnesses in their case today. No indication of who it might be yet, though.
The case is due to start at 1 p.m.
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