The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Alleged victim of Rabat abduction sent Facebook friend request to accused's ex-girlfriend

Friday, 17 June 2022, 13:52 Last update: about 8 days ago

Lawyers for Luke Milton, one of the men charged in connection with the abduction of a man in Rabat, have filed court proceedings requesting a protection order in favour of Milton's former girlfriend, who claims to have recently been approached on Facebook by the alleged victim.

Magistrate Monica Vella heard Milton testify in proceedings in which he requested a protection order be issued in favour of his, now, ex-girlfriend.

Milton told the court that after he had been charged in connection with the abduction, his girlfriend had received a friend request on Facebook from a profile in Arabic script, featuring a profile picture of the alleged victim, Carlos Schembri.

ADVERTISEMENT

The girl, recognising Schembri's picture, had told Milton that she was concerned and anxious about this. Later that day, whilst signing his bail book, Milton had mentioned the incident to the police inspector, who told him to speak to his lawyer.

Separate proceedings were then filed by Milton's lawyers, in which he requested a protection order for the girl. Milton testified in these proceedings, exhibiting a USB pen drive containing screenshots of the Facebook friend request and another of the profile that it had originated from. This account appeared to be active and was not fake, the court was told.

Milton's testimony was preceded by a heated discussion as to whether the girl's name could be published, with lawyers representing the Attorney General's Office requesting that her name be disclosed and the defence questioning the relevance of this to the case.

The Court eventually upheld the request for a ban on the publication of the girl's name.

The prosecution then questioned whether a friend request could be construed as constituting a threat, reserving its position on the request for a protection order. The lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General vociferously opposed this request.

The ex-girlfriend subsequently testified, explaining that she had been very anxious about the criminal proceedings instituted against Milton, which had left her "on the edge of a depression," adding that, to his credit, Milton had helped her get through the difficult period.

When, one evening, she received this friend request, it had triggered her anxiety again because she had no way of ascertaining whether it was a threat or a message or something else, she said. The girl emphasised that she had nothing to do with the case and didn't want to live the rest of her life "looking over her shoulder."

Milton's lawyers, Stefano Filletti and Matthew Xuereb, argued that the parte civile - Carlos Schembri - had no right of audience in this case and could not therefore make submissions. Protection orders are often issued without the other party even being present, the lawyers said.

Schembri's lawyers, Edward Gatt and Shaun Zammit had argued the opposite, claiming that Schembri did indeed have locus standi.

Cross-examined by Schembri's lawyers, the witness confirmed that he had never approached her in real life. At one point in her testimony, the girl complained that the lawyers were sniggering, telling the court that she had been made to suffer a lot as a result of these "lies".

When it was the defence's turn to make submissions, lawyer Matthew Xuereb said that threats are subjective things and remarked that it was "unheard of" for the AG to oppose such a request for a civilian witness with no connection to the case.

The witness had interpreted the friend request as a message that Schembri could find her and was observing her, Filletti added. He wasn't asking for charges, he said, but rather, was trying to prevent the opportunity or need for them.

The court will issue a decree on the request from chambers.

Lawyers Karl Muscat and Francesco Refalo represented the Office of the Attorney General in the proceedings.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Shaun Zammit appeared for Schembri as parte civile

Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Matthew Xuereb are defence counsel to Milton.

 


  • don't miss