Defence lawyer objects to domestic violence victim presence in courtroom, storms out of sitting

Defence counsel to man accused of domestic violence storms out of courtroom after victim's lawyer allowed to address court

File Photo
File Photo

A courtroom was left stunned as a domestic violence arraignment ended with the defence lawyer shouting at the prosecution and parte civile lawyer for bringing the victim to the sitting before storming out.

The 42-year-old accused, who is not being named to protect his alleged victim, pleaded not guilty to charges of harassment of his wife, limiting her access to money, education or employment. He was also charged with insulting and threatening the woman, holding her against her will and attacking her on August 1 this year.

Before Magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace, the man pleaded not guilty to the charges. Defence counsel, lawyer Mario Mifsud, requested bail.

Inspector Audrey Micallef, prosecuting, objected to the request, citing the risk of him tampering with evidence and the grave nature of the charges.

Mifsud made an impassioned speech, arguing for bail. “I am not taking anything away from the seriousness of the charges, but in every case, there is gravity. If the woman is living in Qormi, I expect him not to approach Qormi. So insofar as witnesses are involved, if he calls her or approaches her, the inspector would be informed and proceedings against him triggered.

“I believe he should be given bail,” said the lawyer, citing two recent cases where he said persons had been remanded in custody for a long period of time, for nothing. “He’s learned his lesson and is terrified. The marriage will be dissolved civilly if need be.”

“If we put him in prison, he will lose his job and his problems will grow, not get smaller,” said the lawyer, reminding his client that a protection order carries severe punishment if breached.

But the sitting descended into chaos after parte civile lawyer Emmy Bezzina addressed the court, telling the magistrate that the woman had been a seeking his help for the past year.

“She and her daughter are terrified,” said Bezzina. “He refused to attend mediation…” began the lawyer, before being interrupted by a suddenly furious Mifsud who shouted at the lawyer “you do not have locus standi on bail!”

Inspector Micallef, took over from Bezzina, telling the court that while under interrogation, the man showed a lack of awareness of having done anything wrong.

The two lawyers continued to bicker in the background. At a point, Mifsud roared “M’ghandekx locus standi Emmy, filkaz mur tkellem fuq il PBS!” (You don’t have the right to address the court, Emmy, why don’t you go talk about it on PBS?”.

“You and the inspector should be ashamed for bringing the victim here! She should have been summoned to testify via videoconferencing,” said Mifsud, stalking out of the courtroom.

Bail was denied, shortly afterwards, at which point Mifsud stormed back into the courtroom shouting “Now some bloodsucking lawyers will come along and get him bail!”