Man accused of biting two police officers investigating harassment report

Man charged with biting two police officers speaking to him about a harassment complaint granted bail

A man has denied biting two police officers who went to speak to him about a harassment complaint.

Inspector Jonathan Ransley arraigned 32-year-old Fatherwor Etumuton of Rabat before magistrate Josette Demicoli this morning, accusing him of harassing a woman and with violently resisting police officers, insulting or threatening them and failing to obey their lawful orders.

The accused, who told the court that he is a Nigerian rapper, denied the charges.

“I don’t know what happened,” he protested.

Inspector Ransley told the court that the police had acted on a report of harassment by a Maltese woman on October 25, but when officers had arrived at the scene and the complainant had indicated the accused, he immediately became aggressive.

He bit the two officers as they were trying to get him to sit down, said the inspector.

Bail was requested by his lawyer Noel Bartolo, appearing as legal aid to the accused, in view of the fact that all witnesses were police officers. Ransley objected, as the charges were serious, adding that “the police are there to serve the public and not to be assaulted.”

Fatherwor had already gone to look for the woman in Valletta and Sliema, said the inspector.

“We are concerned that he will try and communicate with the main witness.”

Bartolo argued that there could be conditions imposed.

“We are in the realm of innocence here….I do not think that he merits to be remanded in custody and can be brought to court whenever required. If then he fails, he will face the punishment for this case and for breaching the trust of the court.”

The man had lived in Malta since 2011 and had a clean criminal record, added the lawyer.

“We cannot deny bail simply because on arraignment the alleged victim has not testified. It is not a justifiable consideration,” argued Bartolo. Ransley retorted that it was not a legal requirement to bring the victim to testify upon arraignment.

The court, after hearing submissions by both parties, granted bail. A protection order was issued for the woman.

The magistrate explained to the accused that the case would now be heard by another magistrate. He was warned not to approach the prosecution’s witnesses or face separate criminal proceedings. He was also ordered to sign a bail book 3 days a week and secured his freedom with a personal guarantee of €5,000.