PN files Bill to give clean slate to man falsely convicted of paedophilia

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi presents private members' bill that would give clean slate to man falsely convicted of paedophilia

Shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi
Shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi

The Nationalist Party has presented a private members Bill that would allow the criminal slate of a man who was falsely accused of paedophilia to be wiped clean. 

Emanuel Camilleri spent over a year in prison on the strength of the testimony of his daughter, who had accused him of sexually molesting her. He was released from prison after his daughter pleaded guilty to perjury. 

However, he has remained on the paedophilia register because the law doesn't allow court decisions to be reviewed in cases of miscarriages of justice, barring cases of trial by jury.

The PN's bill – half a page long and presented by shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi - would allow all cases of miscarriage of justice to be reviewed. 

"The current law has been in place since 1967, when 90% of cases used to be heard by juries," Azzopardi told the press after presenting the Bill to Speaker Anglu Farrugia. "There is a great taboo attached to people found guilty of paedophilia, and Camilleri still feels like a prisoner. His life hangs in the balance, and it is our job as politicians to be the voice of the voiceless, especially those who suffer injustice in the name of justice."

Anglu Farrugia said that the Bill was “interesting”, but warned that Parliament shouldn’t interfere in the rights of the law courts to due process.

Azzopardi on Tuesday read out in Parliament parts of a letter that Emanuel Camilleri had sent him.

“If I want to visit Disneyland with my family where there are children present, I would have to ask the court for permission and also I would have to declare my prison sentence to the foreign authorities before my arrival,” he wrote. “In conclusion, I would not be allowed to go and visit a place where I have always dreamt of going. Since I have not as yet been declared innocent, my name is still listed on the paedophile register for all to see. The situation has had ill effects on both myself physically, mentally and psychologically since I am moving into more of a depressed state.

“I ask when will my life be given back to me? When will my family start living a life outside the courtroom? When will this all be over? As the Prime Minister said in his email to me dated 16th June 2014…’one augurs that they are concluded swiftly’.”

Justice minister Owen Bonnici said that he was of the advice – after having consulted the Attorney General – that it should be the constitutional Court to decide the matter.

Camilleri had filed a case before the Constitutional Court and, according to the minister, the judge is close to delivering the sentence.

“The government does not have the authority to remove someone’s name from the paedophile register. The government does however have the power to recommend a presidential pardon. In this case, I however feel that it should be the Constitutional Court to decide since it is already involved in the case.”