Evidence clears man of domestic violence, marital rape

The magistrate said she had serious doubts about the victim's credibility, with none of her claims backed up by medical or physical evidence 

A 21-year-old man from Tarxien has been declared innocent of marital rape and brutal domestic violence, after a court heard a number of witnesses, including doctors, say that the alleged assaults did not take place.

Inspector Jurgen Vella charged the man with raping his wife on multiple occasions at the couple’s home – on some occasions in the presence of their young son. He was also accused of illegal arrest, attempted grievous bodily harm and causing slight injury to the woman, as well as carrying a knife in public without a license and threatening his wife.

The woman had gone to the Paola police station in January 2012, barefoot and carrying her 14-month-old son, to report that her husband had threatened her with a dagger and had punched her in the face repeatedly.

She claimed that the man had turned violent when she refused to join him on a 3am fishing trip, retrieving a dagger from the kitchen and trying to stab her. She had dodged the blade, she said, but the man had then cast it aside and punched her several times. The woman told the court that she had fled the house barefoot, going through nearby fields in a bid to avoid him following her.

The police had sent the woman to a polyclinic for examination, where no bruising, bleeding, misalignment of teeth or restriction of jaw movement was found.

The couple had been married for eight months and had known each other for around two years. The woman alleged that her husband was cruel and violent, towards both her and their son. She also alleged that he would force her to have sex with him against her will, sometimes handcuffing her to the bed, and had threatened that she would “end up in a wheelchair” if she went to the police.

The police had also sent for the husband, who explained that his wife had run away from home with their son. Police seized a dagger that had been stuck to the fridge and a sword from the couple’s box room. A number of penknives were taken from the accused’s car.

During interrogation he had denied ever being violent towards his wife. The accused had explained that on the day of the report, he had argued with his wife over who was going to buy groceries. Hours later, she had gone to the kitchen to prepare bread for his fishing trip the next day and had disappeared with the baby.

He also denied ever having forced himself on his wife or locking her in at home and taking her phone, as she had alleged. In fact, he said, his mother would deliver groceries to the woman, who would open the door for her. The accused explained that the dagger had been bought as army surplus for which no license was required and that he used the penknives in his car when he would go fishing.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli, having seen the woman testify on a number of occasions, said she had serious doubts about her credibility. Her claims were not backed up by medical evidence and nobody had noticed any signs of injury on both the woman and baby, said the court.

It was unlikely that she would see the accused repeatedly beat the child and not tell anyone about it. The handcuffs exhibited in court were clearly toys and could not have been used to tie her to the headboard during a rape, said the court.

The woman had also attempted to reconcile with the accused while he was on bail in the hope of saving the marriage and had admitted to misleading the court, albeit out of fear of the accused.

Having seen all this, magistrate Demicoli declared the man not guilty of all charges and released him.

Inspector Jurgen Vella prosecuted. Lawyer Lucio Sciriha was defence counsel. Lawyer Jonathan Spiteri appeared as parte civile for the woman.

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