A 39-year-old man who was previously sentenced for a year in prison was arraigned before the court of magistrates charged with assaulting the police.
Tony Armando Zahra, who was born in London but lives in Saint Paul's Bay, was arrested on charges related to assault on two police officers, Alan Joseph Zahra and Ruznai Gaffarena. On 7 February this year, the court had ordered the police to arrest the man as he had failed to comply by his bail conditions set on him by a previous court.
The court heard how the man was first sentenced to a year in prison by Magistrate Josette Demicoli after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer. Zahra had filed an appeal. However, he never turned up in court for the appeal to be heard. Later, in March 2014, he appeared before the court of magistrates presided by Anthony Vella and was freed on bail.
Alerted by the fact that the man was not respecting the bail conditions set upon him, including the condition to report to the police station every day, the court ordered the police to arrest the man. The order was issued on 7 February. However, as the prosecuting officer Joseph Busuttil explained, the police only managed to trace the man by earlier this week.
Inspector Busuttil explained that the man could not be found on his home address. They later found out that the accused was frequently visiting the detox centre next to St Luke’s hospital in Pieta’.
On the 12 February, the police decided to execute the arrest at the detox centre. However, on that day, the police failed to arrest the man because according to the testimony by the inspector, Zahra resisted the police and left the detox centre using the back door.
Inspector Busuttil told magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo that as the police tried to approach him, the man allegedly attacked the police officers and caused them slight injuries. It appears the man also used an object to attack the police, causing the officer’s phone to be damaged in the assault.
The man stood also accused of breaching public peace.
Tony Armando Zahra pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him while the defence lawyer Victor Bugeja asked for the man to be freed on bail. The prosecution objected due to the lack of affability of the person in question.
Magistrate Farrugia Frendo ruled that at this stage, the court would not grant bail.