Pensioner denies corrupting four young girls

Kirkop pensioner is denied bail after being charged with sexually molesting four girls, aged seven to 12

A 63 year-old man has been denied bail after he was charged with sexually molesting four young girls, the daughters of his summer residence neighbours at Armier.

Joseph Ebejer, a pensioner from Kirkop, was arraigned before magistrate Astrid May Grima this morning, accused of corruption of minors, non-consensual sexual acts and offending public morals in a public place.

He was escorted into the court building in handcuffs, his head covered with a white t-shirt, as relatives of the alleged victims sat in the courtroom, wiping away tears.

Police say the man, who has a previous conviction for corrupting minors, had participated in sexual activities with one girl, aged just 10 and had corrupted her and the others, who are aged between seven and 12 years old. He was also accused of committing non-consensual sexual acts on the girls.

Asked if he was contesting the validity of the arrest, Ebejer’s lawyer Joseph Brincat said that it had become futile to do so because today, all crimes and contraventions can give rise to arrest. According to a judgment by Judge DeGaetano in Police vs Odette Micallef Et, an arrest is legal as long as the inspector has a reasonable suspicion, he said.

Inspector Spiteri explained to the magistrate that after a report was made to the police, who investigated and found reasonable suspicion of guilt, a request was made to the duty magistrate who then ordered the issuing of an arrest warrant.

The court ruled the arrest valid and in line with the law.

Ebejer pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His lawyer asked the court to ban the publication of the name of the accused, as this could lead to the identification of the victims. It would not make a difference to the case, he said, as the case “would not be decided in village squares or on newspapers.”

Inspector Spiteri said he did not agree that the accused’s name be withheld from publication. It would not result in the identification of the girls and had no basis in law, he argued. Police investigations indicated that that there could be more victims yet to come forward, added the inspector.

Brincat counter argued that the rest of the evidence would be heard behind closed doors and argued that it was discretional on the court to uphold the request for a ban.

The court, after hearing the parties’ submissions, ordered a ban on the publication of the children’s names and that of their family members. The name of the accused is not subject to the ban.

Brincat then formally requested bail for the accused. The prosecution objected, pointing to the man’s criminal record – he had already been convicted for corruption of minors before, said the inspector.

There were also a number of civilian witnesses yet to testify and it was premature for the court to release the accused on bail, Spiteri added.

The court agreed that it was too early to speak of bail, due to the young witnesses and ordered that the man be remanded in custody.

Inspector Clayton Camilleri also prosecuted. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Rene Darmanin appeared parte civile for the victims

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