The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Soldiers acquitted over Gunner Matthew Psaila’s death

Malta Independent Wednesday, 25 September 2013, 09:54 Last update: about 5 years ago

Updates with more details.

Two soldiers have been acquitted of the involuntary homicide of 19-year-old gunner Matthew Psaila, who drowned during a training exercise in Chadwick Lakes in February 2009.

Lt Christian Vella was in charge of the training exercise which led to the young Ta’ Xbiex resident’s death, while Lance Bombardier Marvic Peregin was assisting the recruits.

The two men had been accused of involuntary homicide, as well as of committing a crime that they were duty-bound to prevent. Bdr Peregin was separately charged with relapsing, due to a crime he had committed before joining the armed forces.

In handing down its sentence, the Court said that the two men were not the ones who planned the training exercise. Vella and Peregin were only entrusted to make sure that the exercise, planned by their superiors, was adhered to. They had taken everything at their disposal with them, and they did not have the discretion to request further equipment.

The Court said that the accident could have been avoided had Matthew Psaila informed his superiors that he couldn’t swim. Furthermore, the army is obliged to include swimming as one of the requirements for its C ‘Special Duties’ Company. These soldiers even volunteered for anti-piracy operations and were called out in cases of flooding, so how can they not know how to swim?

The army felt that the exercise needed to have some risk, and this was confirmed by the Court expert’s reports. This particular maneuver was part of the C Company’s training syllabus and had been practiced for a number of years.

Lawyers Joe Giglio and Stephen Tonna Lowell appeared for the two men.

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