Pubdate: Sun, 15 Feb 2009
Source: MaltaToday (Malta)
Copyright: 2009sMediaToday Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta


A man arrested for ecstasy possession managed to get  employed as a 
supply teacher because a court ban  protected his identity

A court ban on the publication of the name of an  alleged drug 
trafficker left education authorities in  the dark over who they were 
employing as a teacher in  2007.

The education division was unaware that Simon Linton  Sancto, a 
graduate they had employed in 2003 and again  in 2007 to work as a 
supply teacher, had been arrested  for drug trafficking in 2005, 
because his name was  banned from publication by court order.

Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna issued the ban during  the compilation 
of evidence stage, but the reason was  not made public at the time.

Sancto's name only became public recently after the  Attorney General 
presented its bill of indictment in  the Criminal Court.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education has now  confirmed 
Sancto's employment was terminated on 25  January 2009, because the 
education division became  aware that he was involved in drugs.

The timing coincides with the Criminal Court sentence  last week that 
asked the Attorney General to revise its  bill of indictment against Sancto.

"The division stopped his employment when it became  aware that he 
was involved in drugs, before the expiry  of his contract," a 
spokesperson for the ministry said.

The reply contrasts with the claims of the permanent  secretary, who 
this week told MaltaToday that Sancto's  employment was terminated in 
January 2008, and only  because his services were "no longer needed" 
- -- rather  than finding his pending criminal charges to be 
incongruent with his educational role.

Sancto, 26 from Qala, was arrested in December 2005  after a police 
chase that ended outside the Sliema  police station. He was found in 
possession of 1,954  ecstasy pills and a quantity of cannabis, as 
well as a  shotgun and cartridges.

Tellingly, the ban on the publication of his name was  the probable 
reason why Sancto was employed as a supply  teacher in October 2007 
with no trouble at all despite  the pending charges, because the 
education division was  not aware at the time of the arrest.

"It is incorrect to say that his drug charges were  ignored when he 
was employed. The division did not know  anything about these 
charges. The police conduct at  that stage had no reference to this," 
the ministry  spokesperson said.

And although Sancto remains innocent until proven  guilty, clearly 
the education division is not waiting  for any outcome on his case, 
having terminated his  employment ahead of his trial.

Speaking to MaltaToday, the headmaster of the Kullegg  Santa Tereza 
said Sancto was sent to the school as a  supply teacher to assist a 
Somali pupil in his Maltese  lessons.

"All I can say is that he performed miracles with this  child," 
headmaster Joe Grima said. "I didn't know about  the criminal 
charges, but he rendered his services here  with flying colours."

Criminal trial

Apart from trafficking charges, Sancto is also accused  of resisting 
and assaulting inspector Pierre Grech and  two constables who tried 
to stop him. Sancto was  apprehended by police after his Mitsubishi 
Pajero was  stopped in its tracks by police cars outside the Sliema 
police station, on 7 December 2005, after the police  had been 
observing his movements for some days. Sancto  tried to run away by 
driving first into the police  blocking him from the front, and then 
ramming the  police car blocking him from the rear.

Police inspector Pierre Grech, who led the prosecution  against the 
Gozitan in the Magistrates' Court, said  Sancto had collaborated with 
investigators and had  named other persons involved in the case. He 
was  defended by lawyers Joseph Giglio and Jose Herrera.

Last week, Judge Joseph Galea Debono ordered the  Attorney General to 
correct several charges on the bill  of indictment and deferred 
Sancto's trial until such  time. At this point, the prosecution has 
to amend a  number of charges, and pending any appeal that 
Sancto  might present on the bill of indictment, his case will  then 
go to trial.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart