Court allows Michael Emmanuel to appeal jury’s dismissal of insanity plea

The Attorney General had declared that Emmanuel’s application for an appeal was null and void

The Superior Court of Criminal Appeal has allowed murder suspect Michael Emmanuel to appeal a jury decision that had thrown out his plea of insanity after returning with an 8—1 verdict.

This was after the Attorney General declared that Emmanuel’s application for an appeal was null and void.

“The only instance wherein an appeal application may be declared null is when these written pleadings are not signed by an advocate or by the appellant himself. Now it is evident from a glance at the appeal application that these requisites have been adhered to by appellant,” the court decided on Wednesday.

Emmanuel stands accused of murdering former partner, Maria Lourdes Agius, by strangling, causing grievous bodily harm to her elderly mother, disobeying police orders and forging his identity papers.

Agius was the mother of seven children, one of whom is his child. Emmanuel is accused of strangling Agius with a crucifix on 14 September 2018 in her bedroom in Paola.

Emmanuel had pleaded insanity but the prosecution insisted that Emmanuel had been aware while committing the crime and even had time to mull things over.

“Agius did not bear children with a madman, she was not in a relationship with a madman and she did not live with a madman. He knew the consequences of his actions, he knew what was right and wrong,” the prosecution had said.

A jury eventually threw out his plea of insanity after a short deliberation. He was unanimously declared sane on the other seven counts brought against him.

Emmanuel’s defence appealed the decision, but the Attorney General said such an appeal was null and void.

The AG lamented that his appeal application did not indicate the precise article of law, which gave him the right of appeal from the verdict regarding the plea of insanity.

“The Court is perplexed that the Attorney General failed to understand the nature of this appeal and the legal basis of the request put forward by the appellant,” the Appeals Court said.

The Court rejected the preliminary plea raised by the AG and ordered the continuation of proceedings regarding Emmanuel’s appeal application.

Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, Judge Joseph Zammit McKeon and Judge Edwina Grima were presiding.

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