Woman allegedly imprisoned in cave by ex-husband, now 'fit to testify'

The psychiatrist who evaluated Natalie Williams says she is now mentally capable of testifying, but must be treated as vulnerable

A woman who had allegedly been imprisoned in a Kalkara cave by her ex-husband has been ruled fit to testify, a court has been told today, paving the way for the man accused of illegally detaining her to possibly be released on bail.

Roddy Williams from the Seychelles, who is being held in preventive custody after being charged with abducting his wife and imprisoning her in a cave,  has had several requests for bail denied on the grounds that the victim had not yet testified, while the victim, his ex-partner Natalie Williams, had presented the court with medical certificates saying that she was unfit to testify.

His lawyer, Franco Debono, has been fighting for his client’s release from custody for the past three months, dismissing a psychiatrist’s concerns about the woman’s mental health and asking for the appointment of a new psychiatrist.

Natalie Williams, 46, had been discovered in an underground cavern in the Rinella area last November, her husband Roddy having admitted to causing her disappearance, when the police had intervened in an argument between the accused and his wife’s relatives in Triq is-Salvatur, Kalkara.

The woman had been missing for three days when she was found inside the cave, cold, dazed, and exposed to vermin inside the complex of underground rooms near the old Kalkara fortifications.

The accused, who stands little chance of bail until the woman testifies has been fighting to have her take the witness stand as soon as possible.

The victim had presented the court with a medical certificate issued by doctor Stephen Spiteri who, it later transpired, was “being investigated for selling medical certificates.” When this certificate was attacked by Debono, the prosecution summoned the psychiatrist treating her, Dr. David Cassar, to explain that she could not testify.

The defence, however, insisted that a court-appointed psychiatrist and not a privately-engaged one must evaluate the woman.

This morning, psychiatrist Dr. Edel Felice, who evaluated Natalie Williams at the court's behest, to conclude whether she can or cannot testify, reported to the judge that Williams was well enough to take the stand.

“After a full assessment and having spoken to Dr David Cassar and seeing her...my conclusion is that there has been an improvement in her mental state. She is now mentally capable of testifying in a court of law, but must be treated as still vulnerable.”

The case will now continue before magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit on Monday.

Judge Antonio Mizzi presided the sitting. Lawyer Kristina Garilli appeared on behalf of the office of the Attorney General. Inspector Josric Mifsud prosecuted. Lawyer Franco Debono appeared on behalf of the accused.

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