Accused’s confession in police rape case cannot be used as evidence

Former police constable’s confession to raping his colleague cannot be used as evidence in the case, court rules

The former police constable’s confession to raping his colleague cannot be used as evidence in the case, a court ruled on Thursday.

The trial of a former police constable, accused of raping one female colleague and sexually assaulting another continued before Madame justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera this afternoon.

When the trial resumed, the judge said that after the prosecution concluded its evidence, the defence requested the expunging of the accused’s second statement, in which he admitted the charges, as the caution had not been administered according to law at the time.

The Attorney General argued it was a preliminary plea that should have been made upon service of the Bill of Indictment and not five years later. Also, his rights hadn’t been breached. “This court must do justice with the victims and must not excuse the accused on a technicality,” the prosecutor had argued.

The court said that while this was true, a balance must be struck. Justice should not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of the wider picture.

The judge remarked that she didn’t like hearing the AG saying that the court must do justice with the alleged victims, but not also saying that justice must be done with the defendant, as he was still presumed innocent at this stage.

The Court said it applies the law to all requests.

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The judge pointed out that the trial was being held without jurors at the defendant’s request, depriving her of the opportunity to explain to the jurors to disregard inadmissible evidence.

Even when the statements are released under the law in force and there are shortcomings, they are inadmissible. The court must base its decision on admissible evidence.

The court agreed that the defence could have raised it at an earlier date, but there was nothing illegal about it.

The court declared that the caution given in the second statement included the rule of inference, which inferred guilt from silence, which was removed from Criminal Code in 2016. “This means that today the legal position is clear in that the accused’s guilt cannot be inferred from his silence.”

“No inference may be drawn from the suspect’s or the accused person’s failure to mention facts which may be considered as evidence of guilt or as amounting to corroboration of any evidence of guilt of the suspect or the person accused.”

The court said that its role was not to see whether the accused’s rights were respected or not, but whether the criminal law was followed.

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It was not simply a question of formality, said the judge, as the rule of inference impinges on the suspect’s rights. This was protected by the Directive EU to suspect’s rights pre interrogation.

The AG upheld the defence’s request to expunge the second statement from the evidence, and prohibited further reference being made to it.

Franco Debono informed the court that the defendant would not be testifying.

More to follow.