Jurors acquit Ethiopian Man of Human Trafficking charges as Trial comes to an end
A jury has acquitted Hadish Abayu of human trafficking in a trial that lasted five days.
The Ethiopian, 58, was accused of being the mastermind behind a 2005 trip that saw some 180 migrants, mostly Ethiopians and Eritreans, land in Malta instead of Italy.
The jurors delivered their verdict shortly before midnight.
Earlier this week jurors were read statements taken from a number of passengers, who had claimed that Mr Abayu collected money from them prior to setting sail from Libya.
But Mr Abayu insisted that he had been ordered by the traffickers, who were Libyan, to collect the money for them. He said he himself had paid $1,000. The accused said he had not realised back then that following this order would land him in trouble.
On the other hand he admitted that he came to Malta illegally and also to absconding to Switzerland at a later date.
The trial was presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima. Lawyer Vincienne Vella, from the Office of the Attorney General, prosecuted. Dr Simon Micallef Stafrace was defence lawyer.