French spiritual leader arrested in Malta

Times of Malta/January 7, 2010

A man who escaped jail in France and his girlfriend have been arrested in Malta on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant.

49-year-old Alan Schmitt, a spiritual leader in a French sect, had escaped a jail term for kidnapping and violence in a group. Extradition proceedings today took three hours as the court had to wait for Mr Schmitt to receive treatment for acute diabetes after he felt very sick moments before he was brought to court.

Laurence Liegeois, his 42-year-old girlfriend appeared first, with defence lawyer Emmy Bezzina saying the police had burst into the couple's Naxxar house which they shared with seven other people at 6 a.m. and used tear gas to restrain everyone.

They were even beaten by the officers during the arrest, he added.

This point was contested by the Head of the International Division in the Attorney General's Office, Donnatella Frendo Dimech, who denied the allegations and said that because the couple had seven dogs, pepper spray, and not tear gas, was used.

In pleas on bail, Dr Bezzina said Mr Schmitt was very ill and needed constant medical attention while his girlfriend and co-accused was a nurse and took care of him.

Dr Frendo Dimech said both of them are untrustworthy since they both escaped from France and that if they wanted to leave the island without the necessary travel documents they easily could.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit remanded both of them in custody until the next sitting.

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