The Malta Independent 18 August 2018, Saturday

Riot training incident video leak: Soldier claims unfair dismissal, case declared time-barred

Wednesday, 14 February 2018, 17:06 Last update: about 7 months ago

A soldier who had been discharged from the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) on disciplinary grounds for circulating a video clip of a training mishap has seen his request for compensation declared time-barred, having filed the case four days too late.

Joshue Agius, who had been discharged after four years of service, had filed a case against the AFM Commander, requesting compensation for an unjust dismissal.  

Agius claimed that he had been dismissed after being blamed for the leaking of a video clip which had been posted on social media and on YouTube, without the incident being properly investigated to find out who was responsible.

The video clip had been shot on a mobile device during a training session at Hal Safi Barracks in March 2015, when one of Agius’ squad mates had suffered slight burns in a training accident.

Agius, who had the rank of gunner, stated that it was common knowledge that a video clip had been shot on a mobile device, saying this was normal practice, to help the soldiers observe their mistakes and learn from them. Agius further stated that other colleagues who, like him, had been held responsible for the leak, were not dismissed.

But the Commander of the AFM, in his reply, stated that Agius had admitted to superiors that he had posted the clip on Messenger and WhatsApp, and had also conceded that the clip shown on YouTube was the video which he had shot.

This was a breach of the official secrets act, he said, and an abuse of the soldier’s position and merited Agius’ dismissal.

He also submitted that the case had been filed too late, as the period at law in which such cases had to be filed was six months.

Before it could consider the merits of the case, Mr. Justice Mark Chetcuti, presiding the First Hall of the Civil court, observed that Agius had been given verbal notice of his dismissal on 17 March, and had been given his discharge papers the next day. Agius had filed the case on 22 September - six months and four days later.

The Court therefore ruled that it could not proceed with the case as it was time-barred.

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