AFM soldier charged with assaulting neighbour over loud noise

A man was remanded in custody for assaulting his neighbour after an argument over a noise complaint

A man has been remanded in custody after being charged with grievously injuring his neighbour in an altercation about a noise complaint.

Manuel Borg, 37, from Safi, was arraigned before Magistrate Kevan Azzopardi on Tuesday afternoon, accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the victim, a Filipino factory worker, in the presence of a minor, at around 3pm on 28 May.

Prosecuting police Inspectors Kevin Pulis and Kurt Farrugia also charged Borg, a serving soldier with the AFM, with committing a crime that he was duty bound to prevent.

Inspector Pulis told the court that the defendant and victim lived in overlying flats and that the assault had happened in the context of a complaint about loud noise. 

The police established that the defendant had attacked the victim, he said, adding that the victim’s injuries had been certified to be grievous, he said.

After the assaulted man told the police that his assailant was someone from his block, officers went to Borg’s residence. Borg had admitted assaulting the victim, said the inspector.

Defence lawyer Victor Bugeja informed the court that the defendant was pleading not guilty and requested bail for his client, describing the incident as a case of legitimate self-defence.

The prosecution objected to bail, pointing to the serious nature of the charges, which carry substantial prison sentences and the risk of the accused tampering with evidence. Inspector Pulis reminded the court that the defendant and the victim lived in the same apartment block.

But when the inspector repeated that the injuries were grievous in nature, the lawyer suggested that they were in fact minor in nature. Reading the medical report out loud, Bugeja said “I see certification for scratches, scratches, scratches, a graze and a graze and you have charged him with grievous bodily harm,” argued the defence lawyer.

Bugeja informed the court that alternative living arrangements were possible for the defendant should bail be granted.

The other party had been tormenting him with loud noise for a long time, said the lawyer. “When the defendant had complained, the victim had assaulted him and the accused defended himself, causing him scratches and grazes.”

Inspector Pulis rebutted the assertion that the injuries were simply grazes and scratches, arguing that the law classified marks on the face, which cause visible disfigurement as grievous.

Magistrate Azzopardi noted that the dynamics of the incident emerged at face value from the documents before him. The fact that the alleged victim was the defendant’s neighbour led the court to have concerns about Borg’s ability to abide by his bail conditions, he said, denying bail.

Bugeja asked the court to impose a ban on the publication of the name of the defendant due to his employer and the circumstances of the case, which he said was trivial. “I don’t think it would be right to smear his name across the newspapers and then it turns out that it was not true,” Bugeja argued.

The prosecution did not object to the request for a media ban.

The court, however, decreed that the Maltese Court system was one where proceedings are heard in public, “precisely so that the citizen has the opportunity to follow these proceedings”.

“Ancillary to this concept, is the other concept that proceedings are public. Therefore the rule is that the media is able to, without sensationalism, report what happens in the courtroom and the proceedings,” said the magistrate. “Therefore, after considering these principles, the court denies the request.”