Man charged with assaulting partner granted bail

A man accused of threatening his partner with a knife broke down in tears after a court granted him bail this afternoon

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
2 October 2017, 3:30pm
'The events were being blown out of proportion, explaining that the incident had occurred while the accused was being kicked out of the matrimonial home', said lawyer Calleja
'The events were being blown out of proportion, explaining that the incident had occurred while the accused was being kicked out of the matrimonial home', said lawyer Calleja
Inspector Charlotte Curmi arraigned Benghazi-born Marsaxlokk resident Mohamed Elbarghati, 28, Libya before magistrate Marse Anne Farrugia earlier today, on charges of assaulting his Maltese partner with a knife during a domestic row.

Elbarghati had been accused of slightly injuring the woman during the incident, which happened on Saturday, as well as threatening her with a knife, using force against her and causing her to fear that violence would be used against her or her loved ones.

Assisted by an Arabic-language interpreter in this morning’s proceedings, Elbarghati had refused legal assistance before his interrogation. Inspector Curmi handed over the knife, allegedly used by the accused in the incident, to the court.

Lawyer Leontine Calleja, who had been appointed as legal aid to the accused, entered a plea of not guilty and requested bail. Lawyer Roberto Montalto, appearing parte civile for the Maltese woman, asked for the protection order to be discussed before bail, saying it was part of the accusatorial process.

But the magistrate said that if she upheld the request for a protection order she could not then, logically, refuse bail.

Montalto argued that the protection order could be requested by the prosecution or parte civile but a bail request could only be made by the defence. The failure to obey a protection order brought with it separate criminal proceedings, he said, arguing that bail had to strike a balance between the interests of the accused and public order.

Inspector Curmi pointed out that there was also the issue of the couple’s 11-month-old child who was caught in the middle of the feuding parents. The police would not be making an objection to bail as it was an isolated incident, she said and because Elbarghati had provided an alternative address in St Paul’s Bay where he would stay if released from arrest.

Montalto explained that there had been a matrimonial dispute. The couple lived with the wife’s parents, but there had been incidents in the past and he had been ordered to keep his distance.

The lawyer described the fact that a large knife was present in the context of a heated argument as worrying. The accused had insisted on separating from the mother and taking the baby with him, explained the lawyer.

“When the mother took the baby upstairs and locked herself in the bedroom, the accused had said that if he can’t keep child he would kill it.”

The incident had to be viewed In context, submitted the lawyer. “He didn’t leave the house to cool down, instead he armed himself. This is worrying. My clients are scared of the accused because of what happened and do not feel sufficiently protected in the circumstances.”

Calleja said the events were being blown out of proportion, explaining that the incident had occurred while the accused was being kicked out of the matrimonial home, arguing that the man being angry about this, was to be expected.

She disputed the version of events described by Montalto, saying that the child had been in the accused’s hands when its mother and grandmother had attacked him to wrest the baby from his grip. “My client left of his own free will,” she said.

The accused was denying taking the knife up against the child’s mother. “At the end of the day, he was kicked out of his home. He is the loser in this situation. We hear many situations where the facts are exaggerated. I’m not saying there was no argument but that it was greatly exaggerated by the other side.”

He should be given the benefit of the doubt and released on bail, adding that the accused had insufficient means for a bail deposit.

Montalto pointed out that the accused was using free legal aid and had insufficient means to pay a deposit, “I have a feeling that he doesn’t work in fact or doesn’t have a fixed employment, but does odd jobs.”

The accused broke down in loud sobs as the magistrate granted him bail. Elbarghati was released without a deposit, but had to provide a third party guarantor for a €6,000 bail bond. He was also ordered not to speak to or approach the woman in any way.

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