Cospicua parish priest embraces pair accused of stealing from his Church

Criminal proceedings against two persons charged with stealing ornaments and sacred objects from the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception continue

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
19 September 2017, 3:36pm
'The items stolen from the Cospicua parish church in July were recovered after information given during confession
'The items stolen from the Cospicua parish church in July were recovered after information given during confession
The Cospicua parish priest has embraced two persons charged with stealing ornaments and sacred objects from the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in July, saying that he had forgiven them, as criminal proceedings against the pair continued this morning.

Fr. Anton Cassar testified before magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace, who is presiding the compilation of evidence against 30-year-old Marflene Chricciola and 18-year-old Gianluca Sultana, both of Cospicua.

The items stolen from the Cospicua parish church in July were recovered after information given during confession, parish priest Anton Cassar told the court. The stolen items, which included chalices and jewellery from the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception were found in a house in Cospicua – some of them in a water tank on the roof.

Cricchiola, who had been due to take up a job this month and Sultana, a technician, were both accused of aggravated theft, damaging cultural property and damaging third party property, as well as with having damaged works of art, in this case the glass niche enclosing the statue of the Virgin.


In a move that came as a complete surprise to all present, once Fr. Cassar finished testifying, he approached the accused as the stood in the dock, shook their hands and hugged them in a gesture of forgiveness.

Prosecuting inspector Joseph Mercieca informed the court that he had requested the woman's mobile service provider to provide data relating to at least 10 telephone calls she made between 00:45hrs and 02:45hrs on the day of the break-in.

A police sergeant, who had been given word that the stolen items were in the area surrounding a water reservoir in Zejtun, recalled how the items had indeed been found there, in a paper bag, together with a note which read “Don't blame anybody. I was engaged to prepare a frame-up but I wasn't paid.”

The police were called after the parish priest was informed of their whereabouts while hearing confession and found them.

Inspectors Joseph Mercieca, Saviour Baldacchino and Christabel Chetcuti are prosecuting. Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Yanika Vidal are appearing on behalf of Marflene Cricchiola whilst lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia represented Gianluca Sultana in the proceedings.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...