Husband and wife charged with domestic violence against each other

The couple was charged with insulting and hurting each other, disrupting the public order, with the woman granted bail for the sake of her children

Magistrate Joe Mifsud criticised the current legislation on domestic violence and the press for not adequately reporting on the issue
Magistrate Joe Mifsud criticised the current legislation on domestic violence and the press for not adequately reporting on the issue

A violent row landed both husband and wife in the dock this morning, accused of domestic violence against each other.

Arraigned after each other before magistrate Joe Mifsud, the accused’s faces were disfigured with many prominent, fresh, scratches.

The 32-year-old Moroccan woman was first to be charged with slightly injuring her husband, attacking him, insulting or threatening him and breaching the peace.

Inspector Joseph Xerri explained to the court how police were dispatched to deal with a domestic incident in San Gwann yesterday and found the pair arguing. The woman had caused considerable damage to the man’s car, he said.

The court observed that she had two prior convictions dating back several years, both of which had ended with conditional discharges.

The court said it had “little tolerance” for domestic violence. “It isn’t just between the couple, but an attack on public order,” said the magistrate, noting the recent increase in the courts’ caseload of domestic violence. Often the courts' hands were tied in these cases because victims choose not to testify, the magistrate noted.

In a rare dig at the press, the magistrate, himself a former journalist and a prominent defender of Maltese journalism, said that journalists were not giving a clear picture of what is happening in court with regards to domestic violence cases.

He also appeared to criticise the current law on domestic violence and its implementation. “The regulations are there, but we must follow them [for them to be effective]. I can’t move the goalposts. If the law doesn’t change, those are the ones I must use,” he said. The legislator should take this into consideration, added the magistrate.

Lawyer Noel Bianco entered a not guilty plea and requested bail. This was granted, against a deposit of €200 and a personal guarantee of €5000, but the court made it very clear that this was only being done because of the woman’s children. He ordered her not to approach the husband, but stopped short of issuing a protection order in his favour.

Next to be charged was her husband, a 27-year-old man from Syria.

His lawyer, Jason Grima, observed that the charges against him were identical to those against his wife but that he was also charged with grievous bodily harm. He asked that the charges against the woman be corrected. The court replied that such a request could only come from the inspector and that in any case, a medical expert was going to examine her and provide an opinion.

Grima entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client, reminding the court, in view of its granting bail to the woman, that the children were not only the wife’s.

The incident arose over the children, he said and argued that social workers at Appogg had rated him as less “high risk” than his wife.

The man is also a first-time offender, unlike the wife, the lawyer pointed out.

The court gave short shrift to the lawyer’s arguments, however and denied bail. “Violence is never acceptable in the family,” said the magistrate.

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