Kalkara murder | Court annuls bail due to procedural grounds

52-year-old Gregorio Scicluna charged with murder of his father-in-law and the attempted murder of his estranged partner and his two children has bail annulled by appeals' court. 

The man charged with the murder of his former father-in-law and the attempted murder of his former partner and their children, aged three and five years old, was today remanded in custody after an appeals’ court annulled a criminal court’s decision to grant bail.

On 5 September, Gregorio Scicluna, 52, of Kalkara, was granted bail against a deposit of €30,000 and a personal guarantee of €30,000. The court had also ordered the accused not to approach his former partner, Maria Simone Caruana, and their two children.

However, the court’s decision was heavily opposed by the Attorney General and in an appeal filed on 16 September, the AG insisted that bail should be revoked because “of the seriousness of the crime, the accused’s chequered criminal history, and due to the alarming fear of relapsing.”

Describing Scicluna as “untrustworthy,” Lawyer Philip Galea Farrugia, representing the Attorney General, this morning argued that given the charges brought against him, the accused has “nothing to lose,” and may consequently relapse again. 

In addition, the Attorney General, argued that it is not in the interest of justice for the court to revoke bail, and that in spite of the murder occurring 11 months ago as well as the court’s protection order, the accused’s former partner still felt scared.

However in its decision today, the appeals’ court, presided by Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi underlined that the court can neither uphold nor reject the appeal, because the “bail is null in the first place.”

The judge explained that when the criminal court granted bail, it should have sent the court file and the proceedings to the Attorney General’s office within 24 hours. In turn, the AG would have a further 24 hours to file an appeal.

It has now transpired that the court file was not sent to the AG’s office within 24 hours, but conversely, it was sent much later – a mistake which according to the court is tantamount to a “procedural error” that annuls Sciculna’s bail.

Consequently, the appeals' court presided by Judge Antonio Mizzi, underlined that bail was null due to the procedural errors by the criminal court.

The defence are now expected to request bail again. 

The murder occurred on 29 October 2013, when the accused allegedly shot dead his former father-in-law, 61-year-old Joseph Caruana. The court also heard that on the day of the murder, Scicluna and his former partner were involved in a heated argument, and when Maria Simone Caruana tried to escape with her father and her children, the accused opened fire.

Caruana and her two children were injured while Joseph Caruana died on the spot after suffering a fatal shot to his back and two shots to his right arm.

The accused is pleading not guilty to the murder, the attempted murders and to being in the illegal possession of a firearm, to shooting in public, and to relapsing.

Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha are defence counsel, while Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell is parte civile. Inspectors Keith Arnaud, Stephen Pullicino and Robert Said Sarreo prosecuted.