Construction worker charged with rape of 12-year-old homeless girl

Despite claims that the sexual relationship was consensual, rape is presumed at law whenever sex involves children aged 12 or under

Matthew Agius
29 September 2017, 2:15pm
Two Syrian men have been remanded in custody on charges relating to sexual activity with minors
Two Syrian men have been remanded in custody on charges relating to sexual activity with minors
Two Syrian men have been remanded in custody on a number of charges relating to sexual activity with minors and the rape of a 12 year-old homeless girl.

Casual labourer Mustafa al Hmeidi 23, a resident of Marsa, and construction worker Fayiz Alkatib, 41, of Hamrun, both pleaded not guilty to participating in sexual activity with the same minor and attempted violent indecent assault in separate arraignments this morning.

Alkatib was charged with raping the 12-year-old, corrupting the minor and participating in sexual activities with her and another 13-year-old girl. He was also charged with committing violent indecent assault on both girls, illegally detaining the 12-year-old girl

Hmeidi was charged with participating in sexual activity with the same 12-year-old, assisting her escape from a children’s home and committing a crime during the operative period of a suspended sentence.

The girls, who are understood to both live in a children’s home, had been reported missing. When later picked up by the police, the younger child had said she had been living with Alkatib and had been sexually active with him. The subsequent police investigation led to the arrests.

Although the 12-year-old told police that she was sexually active, rape is presumed at law whenever penetrative sex involves children aged 12 or under.

Hmeidi looked pensive in the dock, gazing at the floor for much of the time. His lawyer entered a plea of not guilty.

Prosecuting inspector John Spiteri objected to bail in both cases, citing a “manifest risk” that the accused approach the girls again. “These girls often end up on the street, having run away from the children’s homes,” Spiteri said in Alkatib's case. ”If the accused is given bail he would easily be able to approach the victims. It is a real possibility.”

“They are vulnerable witnesses not only by virtue of the law, but also because they don’t have parents or families. They often end up in the town square without any money and they will do almost anything for money.”

Alkatib had no ties to Malta, added the Inspector.

However the defense counsel pointed out that the man had no ties to Syria either and could not return there, so much so that he was seeking refuge in Malta.

The girl was resident in an institution, posited the lawyer. “The failure of that institution to control its inmates is not to be borne by the accused.” The girl had already given a statement to the police, he added.

Hmeidi had a fixed address and the prospect of losing a deposit, as well as a jail sentence for breaching bail which should be sufficient to deter him from approaching the girl if she escaped again, submitted the lawyer.

Inspector Spiteri argued that the girl was not in prison. “She has hours when she is allowed to leave. I don’t think it’s right to leave the victim imprisoned to preserve evidence. If someone is to be remanded in custody it is the accused, not the victim.”

The defense once again retorted that the acts were consensual and that the institution they resided in was supposed to be supervising the minors “but is apparently not effective.”

“He should not be made to suffer for this too,” argued his lawyer.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke denied both men bail at this stage, due to the risk of tampering with evidence and of the accused absconding. A media ban on the publication of the name of the child and the institution in which the girls reside was also imposed.

Lawyers Noel Bianco and Jason Grima appeared for the accused men.

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