21-year-old charged after altercation over pastizzi leaves man in ITU

The accused has been charged after pushing over a drunk man who had been harassing him and his friends outside a pastizzi shop in Rabat on Saturday

A 21-year-old man has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm after pushing over a drunk man who had been harassing him and his friends outside a pastizzi shop in Rabat, late on Saturday night. 

The victim, who is understood to have suffered a serious head injury when his head hit the ground, is currently fighting for his life in intensive care, the court was told. 

Following his arraignment on Monday, the accused, 21-year-old Stevie Pisani from Cospicua, had to be treated by paramedics after collapsing outside the courtroom, having just been denied bail.

Pisani was arraigned under arrest by Inspector Godwin Scerri before magistrate Nadine Lia, charged with grievous bodily harm and breaching the peace in connection with the incident which took place at around 10:30pm on 11 February, in the parking area known as l-Ghalqa ta’ Kola, in Rabat, Malta.

The court was told that Pisani was "currently unemployed," however, his Facebook profile lists him as working as a private security guard since March 2021. Although no publicly available register of licenced private security guards exists in Malta, Pisani's name is published on the February 2021 edition of the Government Gazzette as having applied for a private guard licence. 

Inspector Scerri told the court that the man had been arrested in connection with a report of an unconscious person lying on the ground outside a popular pastizzerija in Rabat. The victim, who had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance, was still receiving treatment in intensive care and is in danger of dying, said the inspector, adding that a magisterial inquiry into the incident is currently underway.

Pisani was part of a group of youths in the square at the time of the incident. CCTV footage of the incident, his statement to the police and other evidence had led to the decision to press charges, said the inspector.

A plea of not guilty was entered and Pisani’s lawyers requested bail, having previously asked that the accused be allowed to sit down as he was visibly pale and complaining of feeling faint.

Lawyer Alfred Abela, defence counsel together with lawyer Rene Darmanin, requested bail, but Inspector Scerri objected to Pisani’s release from arrest at this stage, explaining that several witnesses were yet to testify and pointing out that this was a serious incident which had left a man’s life in the balance.

Abela suggested that the accused had told the police that he had been with a group of friends, when the victim, who was drunk, walked up to him after urinating in the square, and helped himself to the accused’s pastizzi.

He had, replied the inspector, but explained that this account didn’t tally with the CCTV footage. While the alleged victim was indeed drunk, the footage is understood to show the accused standing up, moving towards him and shoving him away. The victim fell over and suffered a head injury.

The accused is unemployed and has a problem with marijuana addiction, the court was told.

“This man was with his friends when the victim came up and harassed them,” submitted the lawyer. “And he pushed him away, as I am sure will emerge from the footage.”
“He never thought he’d end up in this situation. He doesn’t even drink alcohol,” said Abela of the accused.

Although the witnesses might not have testified in the inquiry, they had given statements to the police, which they could be confronted with on the stand, said the lawyer, adding that Pisani has a clean criminal record.
Moreover, the footage was already preserved by a court expert and so cannot be lost.

The lawyer suggested a probation officer be appointed. “We aren’t saying it was necessarily legitimate self-defence, but it wasn’t a random assault,” Abela said. “It certainly wasn’t self-defence,” interrupted the inspector.

The court refused bail, in view of the fact that civilian witnesses and the victim are yet to testify. A protection order was issued in favour of the victim.

The accused looked back at his mother in horror as bail was refused. After being led outside the courtroom, the accused fainted and had to be given first aid. His parents could be heard commenting that “it was the one time he had gone out.”
When he recovered consciousness, Pisani sobbed in his mother’s arms while they waited for medical assistance to arrive.