Man charged with raping ex-fiancé remanded in custody

Court denies bail to man charged with raping former partner

File photo
File photo

A 27-year-old Norwegian man has been remanded in custody, accused of the rape of his ex-fiancé.

The man, who resides in St. Julians, was arraigned before magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, charged with rape, detaining the woman against her will, committing non-consensual acts of sexual nature, slight bodily harm, insulting and threatening her and with causing her to fear that violence would be used against her.

Inspector Nico Zarb, who is prosecuting the case together with inspector Audrey Micallef and lawyer Cynthia Tomasuolo from the Office of the Attorney General, told the court that the woman had visited the St Julian’s police station at 4pm on April 27 to report that the defendant, her ex-fiancé, had raped her in his apartment the night before, after refusing to let her leave.

The couple had been engaged for two years, but had broken off the engagement. In spite of this, they had been having consensual sex “on and off” for the past six months, the court was told.

The woman told the police that they had agreed to meet at his apartment so that she could collect the engagement ring and return a small amount of money that she had borrowed from him.

The man was arrested yesterday by police officers from the Domestic Violence Unit.

Lawyer Franco Debono, defence counsel, together with lawyer Marion Camilleri, asked the inspector whether the man had denied the allegation during his interrogation.

In his first statement, he had refused to answer any questions, replied the inspector, but had released a statement during his second round of questioning, after changing his lawyer.

A plea of not guilty was entered and a bail request was made, to which the prosecution objected on the grounds of the serious nature of the charges and the man’s capacity to abscond, as well as due to the fact that the main witness had not yet testified. It was an “extremely premature stage,” in the proceedings, argued the prosecution.

Debono pointed out that his client had resided in Malta for the past three years, had a fixed address and was gainfully employed, telling the court that he begged to differ on the point of insufficient ties for bail purposes.

“He gave his explanation and is strongly denying the charges, and had already done so in his second statement,” said the lawyer. Debono insisted that the encounter between his client and the alleged victim had been consensual, telling the court that after ending their committed relationship, the pair had agreed to be “friends with benefits.”

“At one point in time she decided that there was no consent,” said the lawyer. “She took this decision after he informed her that he did not want to see her anymore because she was also seeing other men,” Debono told the court.

“You can’t come here and say there is a risk of tampering with evidence without even giving a reason why,” argued the lawyer, stressing that a magisterial inquiry had already collected and preserved the evidence, including the woman’s testimony.

The court rejected the bail request and ordered the man to be remanded in custody, sending the acts of the case to the registrar with the instruction that it be assigned to a magistrate as soon as possible.

A ban on the publication of the names of both the victim and the defendant was also imposed.