Man accused of Maria Lourdes Agius's murder pleads insanity

Psychiatrists must now examine the accused and present a report to the court, which the AG will have 30 days to contest should he wish to

Maria Lourdes Agius's murder had sparked a national outcry that culminated in a protest march against femicide
Maria Lourdes Agius's murder had sparked a national outcry that culminated in a protest march against femicide

The man accused of the murder of Maria Lourdes Agius has pleaded legal insanity as the compilation of evidence against him continued this afternoon.

Ivorian national Michael Emanuel stands charged with the brutal murder of the mother of six in September 2018. Agius died by strangulation. 

Lawyer Dustin Camilleri, appearing as legal aid defence counsel to the accused, told magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo that the man would be pleading insanity. A formal application to this effect would be submitted later, he said.

What happens next?

As a result of this, the court declared the compilation of evidence to be suspended and sent the acts of the case to the Attorney General. An odd number (usually three) of psychiatrists must now examine the accused and then present a report to the court.

The Attorney General would have 30 days to contest their findings, should he wish to. The matter would then be decided by a panel of jurors (known as a “ġurin”). If the report’s findings are upheld, the case would be dismissed and the accused cleared on the grounds of insanity. He would, however, be transferred, under the Mental Health Act, to Mount Carmel Hospital.

The magistrate ordered that the accused be temporarily transferred from the Corradino Correctional Facility to Mount Carmel Hospital.

The plea of insanity implies that at the moment of commission of the crime, the accused was incapable of understanding what he was doing and forming the necessary criminal intent. Sources say that psychological reports indicated that this was “possibly the case.”

Inspector James Grech is prosecuting. Lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Charles Mercieca appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General. Lawyer Stefanie Caruana appeared as parte civile.  

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