Man released on bail over Xemxija road rage incident

The man allegedly attacked a man and a woman following an argument following a traffic accident in Xemxija on Thursday morning

A 21-year-old man from Dingli has been released on bail following his arraignment in connection with a road rage incident in Xemxija yesterday which left two nearby residents injured, one of them grievously.

Inspector Christian Cauchi arraigned 21-year-old Adam Zammit Soler, the joint owner of a turnkey construction company, before magistrate Astrid May Grima on Friday afternoon.

Zammit Soler was accused of attacking a man and a woman, grievously injuring the woman and slightly injuring the man, following a traffic accident in Xemxija yesterday morning.

A video of the incident was uploaded to Facebook yesterday by Arnold Cassola, but was later taken down. 

The fight is understood to have broken out because the victim’s car had allegedly hit the accused's vehicle's wing mirror. The alleged victims, both sporting swollen black eyes, were initially present in court this morning but were subsequently asked to leave the courtroom as they would likely be required to testify at a later stage.

In court today, Zammit Soler pleaded not guilty to the charges. His defence lawyers, Nicholas Mifsud and Robert Gauci Maestre, requested the defendant be released on bail.

Inspector Cauchi objected to the request.

Mifsud argued that case law had established that the seriousness of the charges was not a valid ground for a court to refuse bail. Anticipating the argument that there were civilian witnesses yet to testify, the lawyer said that the law had mechanisms, such as protection orders, which if breached carried punishment almost as harsh as the original charges that the defendant is facing. He suggested that the defence was also in possession of videos of the incident which, he said, showed that the assault had been provoked. 

“He is 21 years old, he owns a company employing 10 people. What gain is there in remanding him in custody at the State’s expense when we can release him on bail under strict conditions?” asked the lawyer, adding that the incident had happened in Xemxija, where the defendant had been working.

Mifsud told the court that charges are also expected to be pressed against the alleged victims. “I am going to make sure they are issued because I have videos showing the provocation,” he submitted.

Inspector Cauchi objected to the bail request, explaining that the police had been approached by the person who had taken the videos. “[That person] told me that she had seen the commotion out of her window. The defendant had stopped the assault when he saw her looking at him.”

“The defence is right to say that grave offences or civilian witnesses are not grounds for refusal of bail alone,” parte civile lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi told the court: “But here we have both. It is useless to say that he is just 21, he employs 10 people... the victims are young and have families too.”

After hearing both sides’ submissions on bail, the court upheld the defence’s request, with the defendant being released from arrest and ordered not to approach or contact the alleged victims, against a deposit of € 5,000 and a personal guarantee of €10,000. Zammit Soler was also ordered to sign a bail book every day and observe a curfew. A protection order was issued in favour of the alleged victims.