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Standard procedures followed during arraignment of Marsaxlokk campers – ministry
When police bring accused to courthouse under 48 hours, defendants are bought to court wearing the same clothes during interrogation.
14 August 2012, 12:00am
But the ministry for justice has insisted with MaltaToday the courts were not turning a blind eye to an act of contempt.
"A distinction must be made between an accused who is arraigned in Court under arrest and an accused who appears in court following a summons," a spokesperson for minister Chris Said told this newspaper.
"In the former case, the accused is arrested, taken to the Police headquarters, interrogated and, if the police so decide, is then arraigned in court before 48 hours. In such instances the accused is brought to court wearing the same clothes they were wearing when they were picked up by the police for interrogation."
On the other hand, when an accused has been summoned or when the accused is already in prison, then the established dress code sets in as the court deems that the accused had ample time for proper clothing to be provided by their relatives in the case they were in prison.
"The minister is informed that in Monday's case, normal security procedures were adopted by the custodians on duty at the time of the arraignment of the accused to Court - they were not allowed entry into the court room with bottles, and others who were identified by the police as not being the accused were refused entry due to their unacceptable attire," the ministry's spokesperson said.
The five men were fined €60 each after pleading guilty to assaulting Marsaxlokk resident Christopher Haber.
Arriving early at the courthouse on Monday afternoon, the men were left waiting at the front gate: their nonchalance at facing the charges, as they waited out on the courthouse's step, struck readers who later expressed surprise that the courts meted out an insignificant fine.
Anthony Cini, 37 of Fgura, Gerson Orsini, 24, of Vittoriosa, Stephen Debono, 44, of Zabbar, Francis Debono, 69, of Cospicua and Mario Schiavone, 40, of Cospicua, pleaded guilty to breaching the peace and swearing in public.
Schiavone also pleaded guilty to breaching the conditions of a suspended jail term handed down last year for charges related to counterfeit money.
Defence lawyer Chris Cardona asked Haber, who was captured in photos being almost throttled while the others punched him, whether he would forgive them so as to bring about a reduction in punishment.
Haber said he was forgiving them because he feared retribution on his own property, namely a boat in the vicinity of the men's campsite, which he claimed had already been vandalised before.
Schiavone's suspended jail term was extended to two years.
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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