Magistrate lambasts prosecution’s request for protection order in six-month old domestic violence case

Police officer is charged in court with domestic violence, six months after his wife reported the incident

The wife claimed in court that she suffered psychological abuse for 11 years
The wife claimed in court that she suffered psychological abuse for 11 years

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech came down hard on the prosecution in a domestic violence case after charges were filed six months after the incident took place, leaving the victim to continue living with her husband.

The magistrate questioned the sense behind a request for a protection order for the woman at this stage, adding that she was losing patience with the prosecution.

“Are you asking for a court protection order when the accused and the victim have been living together for six whole months after the alleged crime took place?” the magistrate asked.

The prosecution, led by Inspector Hubert Cini, said the case had taken so long to come before the court due to bureaucracy.

“How can you wait six months on an accusation of domestic violence?” the magistrate continued.

The victim of an alleged abusive relationship testified today and said that while her husband and herself had been living together for the past six months, it had been “a living hell” to be constantly bombarded by his insults and mental abuse. 

“This is not the reason why you’re here today,” the court replied. “The reason is a domestic violence incident that took place in February.”

The victim, whose name will not be mentioned to protect her two children, filed a police report in February after an altercation with her husband which resulted in minor scratches to her face and throat. 

Medical doctor Patrick Galea who had treated the victim was cross-examined as he submitted two photographs of the victim’s wounds which he described as “slight injuries”.

Defence lawyer Alfred Abela asked the doctor whether he knew the victim. The doctor replied that he didn’t and that he didn’t remember her. 

Yet the victim later testified to knowing Galea from work as he is a doctor at the Paola Health Centre and she too works within the Department of Health.

She eventually admitted that they were friends on Facebook and that she had gone to him after the altercation because she was “embarrassed” by the incident and wanted someone she could trust.

The accused, a police sergeant, pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and kept huffing and puffing, shaking his head, as his wife recounted the incident on that faithful afternoon.

“I woke my husband up from a nap so that he can have dinner. I had punished my son earlier for having a row with his sister and for spitting at me and I sent him to a corner. Upon waking and when my husband saw our son there, he started yelling ‘corner’ at him, to taunt him.

“When I told my husband to stop it, as the son was crying and screaming, he told me not to meddle (tindahalx, pulcinella) and later referred to me as manure (demel). I took offence and wouldn’t respond to his advances later. When I didn’t, he grabbed me by the collar of my jacket and scratched my face and throat,” she said, adding that the scratches might have been accidental when she was pressed by the court. 

The victim filed a police report two days after the incident, she said, because her husband had threatened her not to file it and she told the court she was scared.

She showed the photos of her scratches on her mobile phone to the court and the magistrate said that the two pictures were taken at different times—one of them was taken a few hours after the incident and the other, of a scratch on her neck, was taken the next day.

“The reason for this is that I have a blood circulation problem,” the victim told the court. “There are times when blood doesn’t immediately flow from a gash. I took one photo the next day because the wound looked redder in the morning.

“But I’m not here because of the lacerations. I’m here for the mental damage that I and the children suffered,” she said. 

The magistrate disagreed, even as the prosecution insisted that it was mostly mental abuse that she had suffered for 11 plus years.

“That’s not the accusation that I have before me today,” the court said. “The accused is not charged with mental abuse.”

The victim started crying as the defence cross-examined her.

The court was adjourned as it denied issuing a protection order, warning both parties not to speak to each other in the house which they shared.

“You should know better to control your anger,” the magistrate told the accused.

“I always have,” he replied.

Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin were defence lawyers.

Hubert Cini was the prosecuting officer. 

Magistrate Donatello Frendo Dimech presided.

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