Man charged with threatening Manuel Delia appoints no lawyer, says case 'isn't serious'

Manuel Delia explains he felt threatened by the accused, who had no problem with verbally abusing him in a public place in broad daylight, in the presence of his family

Manuel Delia
Manuel Delia

A court in Gozo has started hearing evidence against a man from Qormi, who stands accused of threatening a journalist both in person and over the phone after a chance meeting in Ghajnsielem last February.

In an arraignment by summons before Magistrate Simone Grech on Tuesday, police inspector Josef Gauci charged 37-year-old Edward Attard with threatening and insulting Manuel Delia and causing him to fear violence. Attard was also charged with communicating threats and insults to the journalist using electronic communications equipment.

When the case was called, Attard showed up without a lawyer assisting him. When asked by the court where his lawyer was, he explained that he didn’t need one because the incident “wasn’t a serious matter.”

The glib reply earned Attard a dressing down from the magistrate, who informed him that it was not for him to decide whether charges are serious or not, adding that the accusations he was facing were indeed serious.

The court offered to appoint a legal aid lawyer to represent him and the accused accepted.

After the court was told that the legal aid lawyer on duty could not attend the arraignment, lawyer Joshua Grech, who happened to be present, stepped in to represent the accused.

Inspector Gauci testified, telling the court that he had investigated the case and found that the call had originated from Attard’s phone. This was confirmed by another witness, who testified on behalf of mobile phone service provider, Epic.

Delia also took the stand, telling the court how he had been driving from Ghajnsielem towards Triq l-Imgarr not long after midday on Saturday 19 February. Delia’s wife, his young daughter and one of his daughter’s friends were passengers, he said.

He said he had been waiting behind two other cars to exit a side road onto Triq l-Imgarr, and had been forced to jut onto the other lane by a badly-parked car, when the driver of a vehicle coming in the opposite direction yelled at him to move closer to the car in front so that he could pass. “I tried to do so, but I was already too close to the car in front of me, so I couldn’t comply with his request,” Delia said.

The other driver then recognised Delia and proceeded to unleash a torrent of abuse, during which the driver described himself as a Labour supporter and accused Delia of being “miserable”, “proud” and telling the journalist that he ought to be ashamed of himself. The diatribe had hardly finished, when the traffic cleared for both cars, which carried on in opposite directions, Delia explained.

But just a few minutes later, Delia received a phone call from a hidden phone number, in which the caller continued his stream of insults, “adding a dose of threats and intimidation.”

“The original premise for the insults was that he had spent less than ten seconds waiting to turn into Triq il-Maghmudija, but the subject of the phone call was entirely the fact that he hated me because he was a Labourite and I was a journalist who was miserable about his government.”

The rage and anger which the man had expressed, “force me to conclude that this man constitutes a danger to my family and I,” Delia had written in his report to the police, in which he asked the matter to be investigated.

He explained that he felt threatened by the fact that this person clearly had no problem with verbally abusing him in a public place in broad daylight, in the presence of his family, and had made efforts to find a way to contact him so as to threaten and abuse him further.

At the end of the sitting, the prosecution declared it had no further evidence to exhibit. The case will continue in July.