Police officer Simon Schembri chooses not to reply on whether he forgives Liam Debono

Schembri said he was ‘shocked’ to hear that Liam Debono had been invited onto the programme, especially after he and his family had spent hours with Xarabank presenter Peppi Azzopardi the day before

Simon Schembri (centre) with his  lawyer Arthur Azzopardi (right) (File Photo)
Simon Schembri (centre) with his lawyer Arthur Azzopardi (right) (File Photo)

The police officer who was run over and nearly killed by Liam Debono, an underage driver, refused to say whether he forgave Debono as he took the witness stand once again on Tuesday to testify in the case against the youth.

Schembri was run over during a routine traffic check and was dragged under the car for some distance. He sustained horrific injuries which necessitated the amputation of his arm.

Yesterday, Debono’s lawyer Franco Debono made a request for the recalling of Schembri to the witness stand in order for him to be able to ask him about an application Schembri’s legal team filed on Friday, and which resulted in Xarabank being effectively gagged from airing an interview with the driver.

The lawyer said references to his client’s character had been made on multiple occasions, however nobody has had an opportunity to gauge Schembri’s own character.  Debono said he wanted Schembri to explain to him why he felt that it was acceptable for him to speak to the pubic but not for the accused.

Cross-examined by Debono on Tuesday, Schembri said he had been asked to appear on the program by Inspector Herman Mula. “I didn’t want to at first, but then I accepted. Peppi Azzopardi came to my house and spent around three hours there talking about family. At no point was the incident or the court case mentioned.”

READ MORE: Liam Debono's mother, sister refuse to testify as compilation proceedings continue

Schembri said that the next day, he was contacted by Mula and told that Liam Debono would be appearing on the programme too. “It was a great shock to me and my family, because the day before Peppi spent hours with my family, during which he praised us but didn’t tell us of his plan.”

As a result, Schembri declined to appear. It was an instant decision, he said. “I said you can bring Liam Debono all you want, but I don’t want to go.”

“You’re going to make me choose,” Azzopardi had said, explained the policeman. “I said: Don’t choose, go with Liam, but I will not appear.”

Before Schembri decided against appearing on the program, both he and Mula had told Azzopardi that nothing was to be said about the case.

He said that Peppi had asked him whether he forgave Debono anyway, but the rest of the questions were about family unity. “He never asked me about my health”.

Asked again by the lawyer whether he forgave Debono, Schembri said he would “choose not to reply”.

Court won’t investigate Illum article

During yesterday’s sitting Debono exhibited an article written by lawyer Joe Ellis which was published in the newspaper Illum on Sunday. The article made Liam Debono out to be guilty without a chance of acquittal, Debono argued, with the court, after reading the article, ordering a communication to be sent to the Attorney General, and Ellis to reply to the complaint raised by the defence within 24 hours.

The court said it reserved the right to decree after the replies were received, not excluding that it could refer to the case to the Commission for the Administration of Justice for investigation.

However, during Tuesday’s sitting, the court pointed out that because it was fair, it would not decide on the complaint itself, as had been suggested in certain sections of the media. “I am not going to investigate anyone for criticising me!”

READ MORE: Simon Schembri recounts ordeal: ‘I knew that if I stopped breathing... I’d be dead’

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