Judge calls for electronic tagging as bail is granted to rape suspect

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera has urged that the time has come to introduce electronic monitoring of people on bail 

A judge has argued the time had come to introduce the use of electronic monitoring of persons on bail in a decree handed down yesterday.

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera was decreeing a request for bail made by lawyers acting on behalf of Mustafa Abu Seadah, who stands accused of raping a Maltese woman whom he had lured to his house. 

The judge observed that the only conditions that the court could impose and have some effect on the man were curfews, signing a bail book, imposing a personal guarantee and taking financial deposits. “The time has come for the introduction in Malta of that which has been used for many years in other countries around the world, what is known as electronic monitoring.”

She pointed out that as far back as 2012, lawyer Franco Debono – at the time a member of parliament- had already flagged the issue and suggested electronic tagging of suspects. During parliamentary debates Debono had highlighted the fact that people were in detention when they could otherwise enjoy their freedom whilst the state maintains surveillance to effect a balance between the interests of the accused and those of society in general.

Were this system to exist in Malta, said the court, the State would be in a better position to monitor people accused of criminal offences and who had been given bail. This mechanism had two aims, one of protecting society by monitoring persons accused and the other of allowing those persons to be given bail under less onerous conditions.

In the absence of this facility, Scerri Herrera ruled that the court had to apply other measures. She granted Abu Seadah bail on condition that he lives at a designated address, sign a bail book three times a week and not approach any prosecution witnesses or leave the islands. He was required to leave a deposit of €2000 and provide a personal guarantee of €5,000.

Lawyer Stefano Filletti was defence counsel to Abu Seadah.

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