Wrongly convicted father struck off sex offender register

Emanuel Camilleri had filed constitutional proceedings claiming that his right to fair trial had been breached by his convictions, which had been decided on the strength of the false testimony of his daughter and ex-wife

Emanuel Camilleri had been wrongly convicted of sexually abusing his daughter in 2012
Emanuel Camilleri had been wrongly convicted of sexually abusing his daughter in 2012

A court has ordered the name of Emanuel Camilleri, who had been wrongly convicted of sexually abusing his daughter in 2012 , to be removed from the sex offenders register.

In a judgement handed down by the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction this morning, Judge Joseph R. Micallef upheld Camilleri's complaint that he had suffered a miscarriage of justice. Althought the justice system functioned correctly, said the court, the false testimony of the daughter was false and had misled the application of justice.

He noted that Camilleri had married Lisa in 1992, from which union two children were born. The couple had legally separated in 2001 and the year after, Lisa had asked the headmaster of her daughter's school as well as the daughter's M.U.S.E.U.M staff to prevent the plaintiff from making contact with the children, alleging that he had sexually abused them.

In April 2003, Emanuel Camilleri had filed a criminal complaint against his wife, accusing her of calumny, while in October that year Lisa Camileri had filed a report with Appogg, alleging that her estranged husband had raped the daughter. Despite a medical examination, carried out in December that year, confirming that Leanne Camilleri had been a virgin at the time, the father was charged and subsequently indicted on charges of corrupting a minor, detaining her against her will with intent to force her to perform indecent acts, as well as attempted violent indecent assault.

In 2007 the court had been informed by the Children's Advocate that the girl had retracted her claim and was sorry for telling lies about her father, although no reason for the retraction was given.

In spite of this, in September 2011, the Court of Magistrates had found Emanuel Camilleri guilty as charged and jailed him for 24 months, his sentence being confirmed on appeal in May 2013.

In July that year, Emanuel Camilleri had filed constitutional proceedings, which he followed in November that year with a criminal complaint against his daughter, asking the Commissioner of Police to investigate her for perjury. Leanne Camilleri eventually admitted to having lied about the alleged abuse.

In May 2014, both Leanne and Lisa Camilleri were charged with criminal offences relating to perjury and false oaths.

In September 2014, Camilleri's daughter, Leanne, now a 20 year-old, was handed a 3-year probation order and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service after she admitted to having falsely accused her father of having raped her multiple times when she was just 8 years old. The allegations were recanted after the 20-year-old daughter revealed that he had been forced into lying against her father while further medical exams revealed that she was still a virgin. Nearly 400 days after being wrongly convicted, the accused’s father was released as an interim measure by the constitutional court.

Leanne’s mother, Lisa May Camilleri, was later charged with instigating her daughter's perjury as well as with committing perjury herself and was indicted.

Emanuel Camilleri subsequently filed constitutional proceedings against prosecuting police inspector Louise Calleja, the Attorney General, and the Police Commissioner claiming that his right to fair trial had been breached.

In a judgment handed down earlier today, Mr. Justice Joseph R. Micallef examined the father's claim in great detail. With regards to the allegations levelled against Inspector Calleja and the Commissioner of Police, the court observed that the police had acted speedily and had shown commitment to address the complaints made by both father and daughter. Emanuel Camilleri had failed to bring evidence showing any wrongdoing on the part of the police that would have led to his right to a fair hearing being breached. The court praised the sensitivity shown by Inspector Calleja in carrying out her orders in this delicate case.

The father's claim of having been denied a fair hearing was rejected. The courts of magistrates and the court of Criminal Appeal were not to blame for the injustice he suffered either, all of them having carried out their duties diligently, the judge held.

On the issue of his demand for €400,000 in compensation, the court said this could not be upheld because none of the defendants in this case were to blame for the breach of his rights. The case had been well-managed by the courts.

“This means that insofar as where the applicant had been found guilty by the Court of Magistrates and the Court of Criminal Appeal on the strength of his daughter's testimony, these sentences had been based on false testimony. This situation raises the issue of a remedy, despite the fact that none of the defendants are responsible for creating the situation.

“It is a circumstance that has caused great difficulty to this court due to the fact that out law does not appear to contemplate a fitting and just remedy for such cases,” Justice Micallef noted.

Although his right to a fair hearing had not been infringed, in the eyes of the court, in the circumstances, the court upheld the request to revoke and cancel the sentences against Camilleri as well as ordering his name be struck off the sex offenders  register.

Stephen Tonna Lowell and Kathleen Grima and Arthur Azzopardi appeared for Louise Calleja while Tonio Azzopardi defended Emanuel Camilleri.

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