The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Saqqajja attempted murder: AG appeal for harsher sentence dismissed

Wednesday, 23 October 2019, 14:10 Last update: about 22 days ago

An appeal filed by the Attorney General, asking for a harsher punishment against a man jailed for trying to kill his wife, has been dismissed - after the man had served his sentence.

In 2016, former policeman Carmel Cutajar had been jailed for seven-and-a-half years and fined €6,500 after having been found guilty of attempting to murder his estranged wife Maria, when he shot her in the chest in September 2012 at Saqqajja hill, in Rabat.

Cutajar, 54, of Rabat, had been convicted of the attempted murder of his wife, seriously injuring her, carrying an unlicensed firearm and committing a crime he was duty bound to prevent when he shot her once in the chest on 26 September 2012.

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On that day, Cutajar had showed up at the Point-de-Vue guesthouse in Saqqajja where his estranged wife of 21 years and mother of his two children, was working. The couple had an argument outside the restaurant before the accused shot the woman in the chest. She ran into the restaurant screaming for help. Cutajar drove off and turned himself in at the nearest police station. He was then taken to hospital, having also shot himself once in the chest.

The Attorney General had filed an appeal after jurors concluded that Cutajar had acted under instantaneous passion and mental agitation and could not reflect on the consequences. 

The public prosecutor had argued that the jurors had reached the wrong conclusion when they accepted the defence submission that Cutajar had been mentally agitated because of what he had gone through during separation proceedings.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi and judges Joseph Zammit McKeon and Giovanni Grixti ruled that the jurors had not been misled and had reached their conclusion on the basis of what they heard during the trial by jury.

It observed that the presiding judge had given an adequate explanation of the legal requirements of acting “under the first transport of a sudden passion as a result of which he was incapable of reflecting,” to the jurors and said the evidence showed that he was indeed acting whilst in an agitated mental state.

The decision comes after Cutajar’s release from prison – included in the sentence was the time he spent in custody before the trial, meaning that Cutajar had served his sentence.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo appeared for Cutajar.

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