Valletta man charged with sending anonymous threatening letters to Opposition figures, NGO head

A Valletta resident has been remanded in custody after he was charged over threats made to opposition MPs, activists and their families

A Valletta resident has been remanded in custody after he was charged over threats made to opposition MPs, activists and their families.

71-year-old Joseph Mary Borg from Valletta was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo on Wednesday afternoon, accused of sending threatening letters to the private residences of Opposition MPs Beppe Fenech Adami, Jason Azzopardi and Ryan Callus, Repubblika president Robert Aquilina, as well as newspaper columnist and government critic Prof. Kevin Cassar.

Prosecuting inspectors Kevin Pulis and Kurt Farrugia also accused Borg of threatening and insulting Aquilina and his brother, PN MP Karol Aquilina.

Borg was further charged with harassing and threatening Karol Aquilina and causing Robert Aquilina to fear violence, threatening MPs during the course of their duties, harassing Prof. Cassar and his wife as well as causing them to fear violence.

The accused was also charged with breaching both a probation order and a suspended sentence.              

“If you want to tell me something, say it to my face, don’t send me anonymous letters,” Azzopardi told the accused in court as the sitting began at around 2:45pm.

The court was told that the MPs were taking part in the Public Accounts Committee. The letters were sent to the private residences.

Accused was represented by lawyer Joseph Calleja. A not guilty plea was entered. The defence requested bail.

Inspector Kevin Pulis objected to the man’s release from arrest. He remarked that “here we have a person facing 26 charges. Several public persons who were, week after week, month after month, year after year, receiving anonymous letters the contents of which are terrifying.” The charges were very serious, he said.

The victims, some of them public officials, were repeatedly targeted by the man’s harassment and threats and had sought police protection, he added.

“This isn’t just a person watching a TV program and posting something on Facebook, as bad as that may be. This dates back to 2017.” There may be further arrests, added the inspector.

The accused had released two statements to the police, he said. He not only knew where the victims resided but had sent them an avalanche of letters there, explained the inspector. Other witnesses may be intimidated by the accused if given bail. He was also a recidivist, concluded the prosecutor.

Lawyer Joseph Calleja said the evidence was all preserved after the police had searched the accused’s house. The court could order the accused not to contact or approach the victims. “He is also an elderly man on treatment for various ailments, “ said the defence.

Inspector Pulis pointed out that the evidence seized was documentary, but that the case required testimony that could be influenced by the accused.

The court denied bail at this stage, on the grounds that there was a real risk of evidence being lost at this early stage of proceedings, adding that a glance at the accused’s criminal record showed his character was one prone to reoffending.