Woman acquitted over Birzebbuga bar fight, as court orders perjury charges against alleged victim

The magistrate ordered police to prosecute the alleged victim for perjury, noting that while under cross-examination, she had given a substantially different account to her initial testimony

A 28-year-old woman has been cleared of having attacked and grievously injured one of her boyfriend’s ex-partners in a drunken fight in a Birzebbuga bar, four years ago, with the court ordering that the alleged victim be prosecuted for perjury.

In a judgement handed down on January 30, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit acquitted Sabrina Scerri of inflicting grievous injury and breaching the peace, over an incident that had occurred near the Birzebbuga police station in June 2019. 

The magistrate also ordered the police to prosecute the alleged victim, Annriette Falzon, for perjury, noting that while under cross-examination, she had given a substantially different account to her initial testimony.

The hospital doctor who had examined Falzon after the altercation upon her admission had documented a bruise on her buttocks, together with scratches on her right knee and face.

A court-appointed medico-legal expert testified that the woman had also suffered a depressed fracture of her eye socket, which constituted a grievous injury of a temporary nature.

The owner of the bar, Scerri’s partner who had previously fathered a son with Falzon, testified. He told the court that he was no longer in a relationship with Falzon, who was a regular customer at the bar and would often leave their son there when she was drunk. 

She had done so on the day of the incident in question, at around 2:00am. 

On that occasion, she had spotted the accused in the bar and called her a prostitute, before shoving her. Scerri had pushed her back and Falzon was sent out of the bar. Falzon had fallen over outside, before heading to the nearby PN club to continue drinking, the bar owner said.

In cross-examination, he confirmed that he and the alleged victim were currently engaged in mediation proceedings.

The magistrate observed that many inconsistencies and contradictions were noted in Falzon’s testimony, concluding that it was not credible. 

In addition to this, the court pointed out that the court-appointed medico-legal expert had classified the injuries as grievous per durata (temporary), while the relative charge indicated by the Attorney General dealt with grievous injuries which cause permanent disfigurement.

“At no point did the expert tell the court that this disfigurement was present,” said the magistrate, adding that the photographs of the woman's face that had been exhibited by the expert, showed no visible marks.

The article of the law that should have been cited by the Attorney General, section 218(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, dealt with permanent loss of strength or function of a part of the body, the magistrate pointed out. 

Although Falzon appeared to have suffered a serious injury to her eye, the events leading up to its infliction could not be established beyond reasonable doubt “principally due to the fact that the parte civile’s deposition had no truth to it.”

Neither had the court seen any evidence of the general public being disturbed by the incident, said the magistrate, clearing Scerri of breaching the peace. 

Besides acquitting Scerri of all charges against her, the court also ordered that Annriette Falzon be charged with perjury.

Lawyer Joe Giglio represented Sabrina Scerr. Senior Inspector Trevor Micallef prosecuted.