Court orders psychiatric treatment for alleged stalker who attacked police

Man had attacked police after they turned up at his house to speak to him, after he had been reported for the continuous harassment of two persons

(File photo)
(File photo)

A 55-year-old man from Santa Venera has been ordered to submit to psychiatric treatment after he attacked police officers who visited his home to discuss a neighbour’s harassment claim.

Mark Privitera was arraigned before Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit this morning, accused of using violence against public officials, violently resisting the police, insulting the police, slightly injuring a police inspector and another officer, breaching the peace, failing to obey lawful police orders, threatening his two neighbours, harassing them, carrying a firearm without a licence and damaging property.

The accused’s lawyer, Jason Grima, told the court that his client was faced with police outside door and had demanded to see a warrant before letting them in. Privitera didn’t believe the uniformed men were police officers and so he demanded to see their police ID cards. “The issue escalated from there… he is very afraid that evidence he wishes to exhibit in another case will be taken from his house.”

Grima contested the validity of the man’s arrest, arguing that the police needed a warrant to search a property over a threat.

But Inspector Robert Vella, prosecuting together with Inspectors Elliott Magro and Wayne Camilleri, said the police only wanted to speak to him, not search his house. The incident began when two persons reported him for continuous harassment over a span of months, Vella said. He explained that the accused is charged in separate proceedings with leaving a shotgun cartridge outside his neighbour’s front door.

“Inspector Spiridione Zammit went to his house to speak to him to understand the problem. As soon as Privitera saw the inspector he attacked him and the officers.”

The court ruled the arrest as valid and justified.

The parties approached the bench where they discussed the case at length, out of earshot of the public.

Privitera a software developer, who appeared in court clutching a Dan Brown novel, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court granted the man bail, ordering him not to speak to prosecution witnesses, sign a bail book twice a week and offer an €8,000 personal guarantee as security.

He was also placed under a psychiatric treatment order.

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