‘Wrongly’ jailed man: Defence says Xarabank prejudiced case, wife granted bail

Defence lawyer accuses Xarabank of unfairly prejudicing case against woman accused of perjury and of instigating daughter to lie against her father.

Xarabank's "best part": Defence lawyer takes exception at prosecuting officer, lawyer, and 'wrongly' jailed father leaving prison together.

Defence lawyer Martin Fenech has today lambasted Xarabank and its presenter, arguing that the TV programme had “unfairly prejudiced” the case against his client.

Fenech made the remarks during the compilation of evidence against his client, Lisa May Camilleri. Camilleri is pleading not guilty to having lied under oath, and to instigating her daughter to testify that her father had raped her several times. Her father, Emanuel Camilleri, was jailed for two years after being found guilty of defiling his daughter.

However, during the appeal, the girl recanted her allegations, while further medical exams carried out on the girl revealed that she was still a virgin. Subsequently, a constitutional court released the man as an interim measure, while her mother was charged with perjury being placed under a bill of indictment.

Standing before Magistrate Ian Farrugia, lawyer Martin Fenech got into an altercation with lawyer Tonio Azzopardi, who is representing Emanuel Camilleri in parte civile. Trading blows with Azzopardi and prosecuting inspector Sandro Camilleri, lawyer Martin Fenech took umbrage at the prosecution’s request to present the court a copy of the girl’s interview on Xarabank.

Taking the witness stand, Xarabank presenter Peppi Azzopardi insisted that the programme never mentioned the accused by name, and that he had deliberately left out an excerpt of the interview where Leanne was heard admitting to having lied under oath due to her mother.

Azzopardi also told the court that he stopped his cameraman from filming Lisa May Camilleri from entering the court because he said that the accused’s identity should be protected pending court proceedings.

At this point, defence lawyer Martin Fenech accused Xarabank of prejudicing the case against his clients, saying that the programme “specifically intended” on influencing the case, and to manipulate the media. Moreover, Fenech – who prior to production of Xarabank had said that it would influence judicial proceedings – said the Broadcasting Authority had censured the programme.

Fenech then said that the “best part” of the programme was when prosecuting inspector Sandro Camilleri, lawyer Tonio Azzopardi and his client Emanuel Camilleri were all filmed leaving the prison in a police car together.

“This is something that has never been heard of or done before,” Fenech said. On his part, Inspector Camilleri, told the court that he always adhered to the police commissioner’s orders and that he had done nothing wrong.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia denied the request for the recording to be made part of the evidence.

Taking the witness stand, the accused’s former husband, Emanuel Camilleri, testified in court that during in 2010, his daughter Leanne had been kicked out of her home because her mother thought she was pregnant.

Camilleri, who back then was living in a separate house and was undergoing criminal proceedings, told the court that his daughter sought shelter at his home. Camilleri also said that his daughter had asked him whether her mother would go to prison if she told the truth.

“I responded that if she [the accused] did nothing wrong, she would not go to jail,” he said.

“I forgave my daughter, but told her that if she had something to say, she had to go to the police out of her own free will.”

Moreover, Camilleri told the court that Sandra Carabott, his sister-in-law, had once Leanne whether he had defiled, and she said no.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Ian Farrugia upheld the defence’s request for bail against a deposit of €5,000 but warned the accused against approaching her daughter, who in his opinion is a “very vulnerable person.” In addition he warned the accused that if she or anyone else related to her, talked to her daughter or approached her from 50 metres away, she would go to jail.

The case continues.

Inspector Sandro Camilleri prosecuted. Lawyer Martin Fenech represented the accused, while lawyer Tonio Azzopardi was parte civile.