‘No f***ing way,’ teen, 16, told police who came to arrest him over Valletta assault

Two 16-year-olds denied bail over Valletta assault during the weekend

File photo
File photo

Updated at 6:30pm with decree on bail

Two 16-year-olds arraigned in connection with an assault in Valletta over the weekend were refused bail on Wednesday afternoon.

The two will not be held at the Corradino Correctional Facility but at the Y.O.U.R.S. residence for young offenders.

The incident left a 15-year-old boy’s leg broken in two places. The pair were charged in a lively arraignment this afternoon, during which the presiding magistrate pointed to the need to update the Criminal Code with regards to offences committed by persons aged between 16 and 18 years of age.

"So [at age 16] they're good to marry, run for politics, work in business, but then they aren't able to be charged as adults. It is a great injustice," Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech said.

Taking the witness stand, inspector Kevin Pulis explained how one of the accused, when told he had to come to the police station, had replied “niġi l-għassa l-ostja” (no fucking way).

Pulis said that later, his mother told the police that he needed legal aid but the legal aid lawyer then informed the inspector that he would be represented by lawyer Franco Debono.

Pulis went on to argue that the assault victims were terrorised and the 15-year-old boy with a broken leg would be missing six weeks of school during exam time. 

The two-hour arraignment was characterised by heated exchanges involving lawyer Franco Debono who is representing one of the accused, together with lawyer Francesca Zarb and victim's lawyer Stefano Filletti. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are representing the second youth.

Debono questioned the validity of his client’s arrest. But those concerns were dismissed by the magistrate. Debono nevertheless asked the court to minute the fact that when his client was taken into custody, the arresting officer did not inform him why they were being arrested. That, Debono argued, went against Article 355 of the Criminal Code.

Inspector Daryl Borg gave the circumstances of the arrest. Police had been reacting to a report of a fight, and CCTV had helped the police identify the perpetrators.

The accused were given full disclosure and shown CCTV of the incident. They were told that there were victims who had suffered injuries.

Arguing for bail, Debono reminded the court that under the criminal code, punishment for minors under 18 years of age is reduced by one or two degrees.

"These are two youths who have a clean criminal record. They are not troublemakers. The welfare state must channel all its efforts to help the two persons accused today if possible," he said.

Arthur Azzopardi made further submissions on behalf of his client, asking that if bail is granted, his client be placed under a supervision order.

“The two accused had never been investigated or charged with any offences,” he said.

The youths, who are from Valletta and Floriana, are charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, causing four other youths to fear violence, attacking them and insulting them. The accused youths are facing charges of slightly injuring two other minors.

Lawyer Charles Mercieca and Giannella De Marco are representing one of the alleged victims as parte civile. Lawyer Stefano Filletti is appearing for two other alleged victims.

The remaining alleged victim was represented by his mother.