The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Arson attack on man’s car ‘act of revenge’, court hears

Tuesday, 21 January 2020, 13:18 Last update: about 2 months ago

A court has heard how a recent arson attack on a man's parked Mercedes was an act of revenge, as a couple were accused of carrying out the attack, four days after a third individual was charged with procuring the accelerant used in the blaze.

29 year-old Judith Bakoush and Omar Joseph Trabelsi, 31, appeared in the dock before magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace this morning, accused of setting fire to the Mercedes and causing damage to another car parked next to it in November last year.

Bakoush alone was also charged with complicity in the arson by giving the order and inciting the other persons involved to commit the crime. In addition, Bakoush was also accused of breaching bail conditions as well as a conditional discharge. Trabelsi was also accused of recidivism.

The two accused chatted affectionately as they waited for the sitting to begin. Bakoush, her hair in a pink ponytail, fidgeted in the dock as the preliminaries were concluded.

When the court got underway, a plea of not guilty was entered on behalf of the accused couple. Bail was requested, with lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri, appearing for Bakoush, arguing that the woman had been given police bail at least five times since her arrest and had always signed her bail book and appeared in court as required. “The charges date back to November 10, your honour, had they wanted to approach any witnesses this would have been done already,” he submitted.

Inspector Jeffrey Scicluna, prosecuting, however objected “with all his might” against bail. “This was a case of revenge,” he said, without elaborating. He pointed to the woman’s long criminal record as proof of her untrustworthiness. She had been given police bail five times, he said, but the last two times, she had tried to avoid signing and sent bogus medical certificates, added the inspector. He also objected to bail on the ground of the nature of the charges.

Debono submitted that Bakoush also had 3 young children to take care of.

The court, after hearing submissions, denied bail to Bakoush.

Trabelsi’s lawyer, Yanika Zammit Tabona, informed the court that the man was currently being held at the maximum security wing of Mount Carmel Hospital and was finding this to be beneficial. “The aim is to beat his drug addiction,” she said. “He starts rehab next month.”

The court was asked to order a ban on the publication of the man’s name to avoid embarrassment to his family, but the court refused the request after the prosecution objected, saying the request had no basis at law.

The court urged the director of prisons to allow Trabelsi to get the care he needed.

 

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