Lawyers refuse to hold sitting in crowded courtroom due to COVID-19 fears

The compilation of evidence against Leon Debono and Owen Schembri was temporally stopped after lawyers complained that the courtroom was too crowded 

Lawyers have complained that the courtroom where the compilation of evidence against Leon Debono and Owen Schembri was due to be heard was too crowded and posed a health risk.

Magistrate Nadine Lia said she didn’t have control over the selection of courtroom and asked that the complaint be made to the administration.

All the parties, Defence and parte civile refused to conduct the sitting in the crowded atmosphere.

Lawyer Giannella De Marco said the number of people in the courtroom was in excess of those specified in regulations. The registrar of courts is not above the law, said the lawyer, saying that it was not fair for the people present to risk their health for this sitting. “Like we’re in a pen.”

A representative of the registrar of courts was summoned. After admonishing the administration for not planning for the expected numbers of attendees, the court said the sitting would resume in a different, larger courtroom.

At the end of July Debono and Schembri, aged 19 and 18 were charged with the murder of 27-year-old Saviour Gaffarena, as well as the attempted murder of his cousin, 17-year-old Vince Gaffarena.

READ ALSO: Two charged in connection with Mqabba murder

Lawyers Alfred Abela, Arthur Azzopardi and Rene Darmanin appeared for Schembri. Lawyer Giannella De Marco was defence counsel to Debono.

Inspectors Keith Arnaud, Kurt Zahra and Melvin Camilleri prosecuted.

Lawyers Mark Refalo and James D’Agostino appeared parte civile.

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