Soldier and brother remanded in custody over Pembroke school fracas

Senior AFM non-commissioned officer and his brother arraigned on charges including attacking and slightly injuring a 15-year-old student and two teachers

The incident happened at St Clare's College secondary school in Pembroke (Photo: St Clare's College website)
The incident happened at St Clare's College secondary school in Pembroke (Photo: St Clare's College website)

A senior AFM non-commissioned officer and his brother have been remanded in custody over the incident at Pembroke School in which a child and a number of teachers were allegedly attacked by a parent.

Staff Sergeant Alexander Camilleri and his brother Feliciano Camilleri pleaded not guilty to charges of attacking and slightly injuring a 15-year-old pupil at the school, attacking and slightly injuring two teachers, insulting and threatening them, exceeding the limits of provocation, using obscene language in public and breaching the peace.

Inspector Joseph Xerri said that three men had entered St Clare's secondary school in Pembroke and attacked a child of 15 who was involved in an incident with a boy.  Two men were identified and the third was later identified as Camilleri.

Lawyers Alfred Abela, Arthur Azzopardi and Rene Darmanin asked for bail. This was objected to due to gravity of the crime. The AFM soldier had entered a school to attack a 15-year-old and had injured teachers - public officers – said the prosecution. “This is not acceptable in a democratic society,” the prosecution said.

Defence lawyer Alfred Abela explained the background. The accused’s 13-year-old nephew was attacked by a racist bully several times said the lawyer. “He was attacked by this 15-year-old boy who is over six feet tall.” The father had gone to the school because the school administration had called him as his son needed to go to hospital. “It was the 15-year-old who tried to attack the father of the child and the accused had intervened to separate the fighting parties,” said Abela in his submissions on Alexander Camilleri's bail.

On the charge of committing a crime he was duty bound to prevent, the lawyer pointed out that a soldier’s duties were different from that of a policeman and that not every public servant had the same duties.

Moreover, every person involved had made declarations which had been preserved and there was no risk of tampering with evidence, Abela argued, adding that the accused had also released a statement explaining everything despite having a right not to. “The intention was not to injure teachers. At the end of the day it was an incident but the parameters to keep a person under arrest were not present. Strasbourg has repeatedly said that bail cannot be refused on gravity of the crime alone.”

The bullied child’s father, Feliciano Camilleri , was also arraigned on similar charges.

The court issued a protection order for the parents and the whole staff of the school and the parents of the child. It noted that breaching a protection order could lead to a two-year prison term and a €7,000 fine. 

The court said that every person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Violence is unacceptable especially in school and would not stay silent in the face of this. God forbid that a headmaster, teacher are attacked by students.

It said that bail is not automatic, but that it had to take into account a number of factors and satisfy itself that there is no danger to release the accused from arrest. The court went on to deny bail to both men, underlining that it was its duty to ensure a balance between the protection of society and the rights of the accused. 

"God forbid that we reach the situation where a headmaster, teacher, parent or other person responsible for the minor is unable to correct the minors [for fear of] ending up attacked and injured," the court said in its decree, "If one adopts this attitude this is not going to augur well for our society, and we'd be risking that our children are raised with a permissive mentality and that even if they do something bad or disobey, this doesn't matter because it will attract no sanction."

The court ordered a ban on the publication of the name of the minors involved.

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