The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

Prisoners serving life should be allowed to apply for a revision of sentence, top court rules

Tuesday, 8 November 2016, 10:03 Last update: about 6 years ago

In a landmark decision, a constitutional court has ordered the authorities to draft a mechanism that will allow prisoners serving life sentences to apply for parole, revision and the possibility of having their term reduced.

The ruling was part of the judgement handed down in a case filed by Tunisian Bel Ali Wahid Ben Hassine – who had admitted to the murder of four people in 1988 - in which a court said that a life sentence in Malta was in breach of fundamental human rights.


The court was presided over by Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri and Judges Giannino Caruana Demajo and Noel Cuschieri.

Mr Ben Hassine successfully argued that the fact that Maltese law did not allow prisoners serving life to apply for a revision, as recommended by the Council of Europe, was in breach of fundamental rights.

Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri

The court said prisoners serving life sentences in Malta could only write to the President to ask for a pardon or ask for prison leave. However there were no objective criteria that are considered by the President before they consult with the cabinet and make a decision. As such this was only a discretional power and could not be considered as an adequate mechanism for the revision of a life sentence, as is required by the European Convention of Human Rights.

Lawyers Larry Formosa and Alfred Grech appeared for the Tunisian.

The Tunisian had been found guilty, along with co-national Mohsen Bin Brahim Mosbah, of killing four people in 1988. They are considered to be serial killers.

The two men had admitted to killing James Reed at Ta' Xbiex on a yacht on February 12, 1988 and Alfred Cucciardi, a taxi driver, on the same night. Six days later, they killed taxi driver Alfred Darmanin and of Frenchman Michel Levarlet. Both are serving life sentences.

There are currently 14 prisoners serving life sentences at the Corradino Correctional Facility.

Main picture: Communications

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