Medical certificate does not exempt victim from testifying in attempted murder case

The victim of an attempted murder is ordered by court to testify in the compilation of evidence against his aggressor, although he exhibited a medical certificate exempting him from taking the stand.

Magistrate Carol Perlata today ordered Vince Muscat, known as "il-Kohhu", to testify at the Police headquarters despite a medical certificate exempting him from taking the stand in court being exhibited during today’s sitting. The evidence is to be given at the Police HQ tomorrow.

As the compilation of evidence against Jonathan Pace continued, the victim’s lawyers exhibited a certificate, drawn up by an ophthalmologist, claiming the man could not testify at court.

However the defence counsel argued that Muscat had been released from hospital on 24 May and had already testified at the Police HQ in a different case. “He should stop playing games and wasting our time,” Gianella de Marco told the court.

Jonathan Pace, of Gudja, is being charged with the attempted murder of 53-year old Vince Muscat, know as il-“Kohhu”. He is also accused of firing a weapon in public, keeping an unlicensed firearm, damage to the victim’s Mitsubishi car, threatening Inspector Keith Arnaud and relapsing. The 31-year old former butcher was well known for his shop “Tyson Butcher” in Zejtun.

In today’s sitting, Magistrate Peralta suggested that Muscat testifies in his own home, with the attendance of the accused and his lawyers. This was heavily objected to by the prosecution and the victim’s lawyers. “This would allow the person who tried to kill him to enter the victim’s home”, the lawyer said.

The defence then raised the issue that such measure will lengthen the accused’s in custody. “People who are still presumed to be innocent should not be kept in detention”, the Magistrate said, ruling that Muscat is to give evidence, tomorrow, at the Police HQ. Court expert Lawyer Maria Karlsson is to hear evidence in lieu of the Magistrate.

The attempt on Muscat’s life took place late in the evening of 8 April in Bordin Street, Pieta, where he resides. He was shot while inside his vehicle but managed to drive to the police station, where he was given first aid and rushed to hospital. He told officers he could identify the person who shot him.

Doctors certified he had been hit by two rounds in the neck and hand, while a third grazed him. Another three shots had missed him. After spending some days in critical condition, Muscat was discharged from hospital when his health improved.

The victim was a co-accused in the attempted murder of two police officers in the failed bank heist on the HSBC main office in Qomri in 2010. Muscat had allegedly fired over 30 shot at the police. He is still out on bail.

The hearing was postponed to 1 July, when Muscat’s testimony will be read in court.

Lawyers Gianella de Marco and Joe Giglio are representing the accused while Dr Arthur Azzopardi and Dr Kathleen Grima are representing the victim.

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