Sea-Watch activists plead guilty to damaging public property

The activists were accused of spray painting slogans on the Kappara bridge 

The graffiti sprayed by the accused
The graffiti sprayed by the accused

Three Sea Watch activists have been convicted of damaging public property after they admitted to spray painting slogans on Kappara bridge.

Student Daniel Tamino Bohm, 27 and freelance graphic designer Jelka Elena Kretzschmar, 35 from Germany, together with Marco Muller, a 26-year-old design engineer from Switzerland were arraigned before magistrate Josette Demicoli this morning, accused of causing over €6000 worth of damage to Kappara Bridge by spray painting the slogans “Open the Ports” and “Free the Ships” on to the structure’s concrete pillars.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli heard Police Inspector Colin Sheldon explain how a report had been received by Sliema Police station that people were daubing graffiti on the structure. Police went to the scene and caught the trio in the act.

The court warned them that the punishment stated in the law was prison between 18 months and 4 years, since it is public property, the punishment is increased by a grade to between 2 years and 5 years, but that as this was a first-time offence, this could be suspended.

The trio pleaded guilty. Muller clarified that he was pleading guilty as an accomplice, although this has no bearing on the punishment.

The accused’s lawyer told the court that they were prepared to pay the €6445 to Transport Malta today, once their bank cards are returned to them by the police.

The court gave them time to reconsider their guilty plea, which however, they did not change.

Lawyer Malcolm Mifsud argued that the accused had cooperated fully, admitted and volunteered to pay for the damages. They also apologised for the incident, he said.

“They are Sea Watch activists,” explained the lawyer. “The court is aware of the controversy on the immigration issue. They wanted to press a point but did not do so in the correct format. They are not even contesting the amount by saying its inflated. It’s a sacrifice for them,” he said.

Mifsud disagreed with the prosecution’s suggestion of a suspended sentence. The case didn’t merit any prison sentence, but suggested a conditional discharge, he said. “I don’t want this to be used later in an arm-twisting exercise between the authorities and Sea Watch.”

The court, after having seen the law, upon their admission found the accused guilty of the charges and discharged the accused for 3 years, ordering that they pay Transport Malta within 3 days.

Lawyers Malcolm Mifsud and Gianluca Cappitta were defence counsel.

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