The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Man accused of injuring partner files constitutional case to request bail

Wednesday, 19 December 2018, 15:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

A man accused of slightly injuring his partner has filed constitutional proceedings in his bid to be released on bail.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of his children, was arraigned on 29 October, accused of slightly injuring his partner and causing her to fear he would use violence against her.

Despite repeated requests for bail, the man has been remanded in custody since then. In the last sitting, in November, the case was put off for two months after the prosecution finished exhibiting its evidence.

In a Constitutional application filed this morning, his lawyers Franco Debono, Amadeus Cachia and Mario Mifsud argued that the absence of a disposition of law regulating how often his detention should be reviewed, breached his fundamental rights.

The problem stems from a legal distinction between a court compiling evidence and a court of criminal judicature. In the former case, the law stipulates that a person must be brought before it every 15 days to determine whether bail should be granted, whilst in the other case there is no such condition.

As his case was being heard by a court of criminal judicature, he could be remanded in custody for much longer, despite the possible punishment at the end of the criminal proceedings being considerably less than where compilation proceedings are required.

The accused also complained that the law gives a right to the Attorney General to request the revision of bail decrees, but not the accused if denied bail. This gave rise to an inequality of arms, a lack of protection against arbitrary detention and a breach of the right to a fair hearing, argued the lawyers, quoting the European Convention on Human Rights and various authors, at length.

In compilation proceedings, the accused has a right to recourse before the Criminal Court where he can request bail while the acts are being reviewed by the Attorney General. This, reads the application, is “completely inexistent” in cases being decided by the court of Magistrates as a court of criminal judicature.

The accused’s lawyers asked the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction to declare that the man’s fundamental human rights had been breached and provide a suitable remedy.

 

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