The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Church sex abuse case to be heard behind closed doors, court decides

Monday, 8 March 2021, 12:28 Last update: about 2 months ago

The case against two Gozitan priests who are charged with sexually abusing an altar boy will continue to be heard behind closed doors, a court ruled on Monday.

Magistrate Bridgette Sultana barred the press from reporting on the alleged crimes and said that the proceedings will continue behind closed doors “in the interest of full justice”.

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Priests Joseph Cini and Joseph Sultana – 70 and 84 years old respectively – have both pleaded not guilty to defiling a minor and holding him against his will between 2003 and 2005.  Cini also stands accused of raping the then eight-year-old boy.

In testimony given by the victim via videoconference, he said that Cini gave him Lm5 (€11.65) after raping him on the sofa, while Sultana used to touch him over his clothes and later underneath.

Defence lawyer Michael Sciriha argued on Monday that the case should be heard behind closed doors because it is one which deals with a matter of public morality.  The prosecution left the matter to the court to decide.

Magistrate Sultana ordered the case to be heard behind closed doors in order to protect the accused’s right to a fair trial and for justice to be done in full.

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