Jason Azzopardi testifies about altercation with Delia loyalist outside PN HQ

PN MP tells court how John Borg insulted and attacked him outside party headquarters in July

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi
Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi

Rebel PN MP Jason Azzopardi has told a court how a Delia loyalist insulted and attacked him outside the PN Headquarters last month.

Accompanied by Delia security man Vincent Borg, (known as Censu l-iswed), Borg’s son and several other men, 45 year-old John Borg from Pieta appeared before magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo this afternoon, where he is being charged with assaulting Azzopardi without injuring him, breaching the peace and threatening the MP.

Inspector Matthew Galea told the court that the man had denied acting with aggressive intent and said that he only wanted to give voice to his dissent. In an affidavit, one of the police officers at the scene said that he had seen someone waving his fists at Azzopardi and shouting "we'll meet again, you and me!"

When confronted with footage of the incident taken from a One News bulletin, Borg did not deny that he was in the film and had said that he was dissenting, said the inspector.

Azzopardi took the stand this afternoon, recounting the events of the 24 July, when he left a meeting at the PN headquarters after midnight.

“After the meeting I left from the main entrance and as I reached the pavement, there were John Debono, Mario Degiorgio and Anthony Micallef and I was telling them that I couldn’t remember where I left my car.”

“While we were talking, a man whom I did not recognise passed not more than 8ft away. He said ‘ahdar int, mhawnx bniedem izjed ahdar minnek int.’  Then he turned around and said ‘issa tarah wicc Alla.’ I asked him what he was saying as I didn’t know him,” Azzopardi recalled.

“He launched himself at me with both fists raised. Had it not been for the police, he would have hit me. The police sort of walked him away and later on, I saw One News footage of him remonstrating saying ‘we’ll meet again you and me, Jason.’ ‘Ahdar’ is an insult, ‘Tarah wicc Alla’ is a threat and the ‘we’ll meet again’ he said as he was being restrained is also taken as a threat,” Azzopardi said.

The MP said he didn’t make the report on his own behalf, but to avoid further such incidents against his colleagues, after seeing multiple offensive Facebook posts made by the man. “It is not right that a person acts this way towards others. Not just against an MP, we are normal people.” Azzopardi told the court that he had insisted that the inspector not charge the man under article 95 of the criminal code which deals with vilification and threats made against a public officer and which would increase the punishment considerably.

Azzopardi praised the police for intervening promptly and for not overreacting.

Cross-examined by lawyer Mario Mifsud, Azzopardi denied taking off his glasses and moving towards the accused. “I cannot see without my glasses,” he said. “No sir, I had no reason to do so.”

Azzopardi had never seen the accused at the PN HQ he said. “He might have been there and I didn’t know about it, but I don’t know him and it was the first time I ever saw him. He is not a constituent of mine.”

This was the only incident, the MP said, adding that however, afterwards Borg had continued to write similar threats on Facebook. “I would expect that he show some remorse,” observed Azzopardi.

Eyewitness John Debono said he had been outside the building. He saw Claudio Grech and Azzopardi leave and had followed Azzopardi.

“At a point a man approached Azzopardi and said he wouldn’t see the face of god several times. He called Azzopardi a joker.”

“There was a commotion and I saw two people pushing this man away from us and Azzopardi in the opposite direction. Then a few seconds later, the police arrived and intervened, approaching Borg and calmed the situation down.”

The prosecution and parte civile declared its evidence closed.

The case continues on 10 September.

Lawyers Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia assisted Azzopardi.

Lawyer Christian Camilleri was also defence counsel.