Defence requests Valenzia report be exhibited in Bernice Cassar murder case

Roderick Cassar denies murdering Bernice, and is facing 15 charges

Roderick Cassar with his face covered by a jacket on the back seat of a police car as he was being driven away to prison (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Roderick Cassar with his face covered by a jacket on the back seat of a police car as he was being driven away to prison (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Lawyers have requested the exhibition of the a report by retired judge Geoffrey Valenzia which concluded that the State had failed Benice Cassar as the case against the 42-year-old man from Mqabba accused of her murder continued this morning.

Roderick Cassar denies murdering Bernice, his ex-wife and the mother of their two children, in Corradino industrial estate on 22 November.

He is facing 15 charges in total including holding the victim against her will, subjecting her to moral and psychological violence, using a firearm during the commission of a crime and carrying a weapon without a permit.

Other charges deal with the theft of the victim's mobile phone and car keys, and voluntary damage to her property. He is also accused of breaching a probation order and insulting a man who had tried to intervene, moments before the fatal shooting took place.

In court this morning, defence lawyer Franco Debono stressed that a copy of Valenzia's inquiry into this case had to be provided to the defence. Debono suggested that society had probably failed more than one victim. "Who knows if it has failed others?"

The prosecution questioned the relevance of the defence’s request.

Bernice Cassar
Bernice Cassar

Replying to Debono’s demand, presiding magistrate Joe Mifsud said that the lawyer knew where he should file an application to request a copy, telling him not to attempt to burden the court with such a request.

Attorneys Angele Vella, Anthony Vella and Darlene Grima from the Attorney General's Office are assisting Inspectors Wayne Camilleri, Shaun Pawney and Paul Camlleri as Prosecution. The lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi, Marion Camilleri and Jacob Magri are appearing for the accused. The lawyers Stefano Filletti, Marita Pace Dimech, Ann Marie Cutajar and Rodianne Sciberras are appearing as parte civile on behalf of the victim's family.

The accused was the first person to be accused of voluntary femicide, an aggravated version of the crime of homicide. The only difference in the law between femicide and homicide is that the concept of the "crime of passion" (a crime that occurred during a constant passion) has been removed when it comes to men.

This legal concept was introduced last year after the violent murder of Paulina Dembska in Tas-Sliema on 2 January. Therefore, the accused cannot continue to argue that they committed a crime of passion - one of the lines of defense most used in such cases.

The victim Bernice Cassar had submitted several reports of domestic violence against her husband, which led the police to bring criminal charges against him last May. The couple had been married for nine years. The Court had ordered Roderick Cassar not to approach his wife, where the couple was going through a process of separation, but allegedly the accused repeatedly violated that protection order given by the Court.

The case was adjourned to May.