The Malta Independent 3 February 2023, Friday
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Change the procedures so the really guilty do not get off scot-free

Noel Grima Sunday, 27 November 2022, 07:48 Last update: about 3 months ago

When, on Tuesday morning, we began hearing about a murder that had just taken place at Corradino where a man shot and killed a woman, I am certain that many of us ran through our list of people we know with a short fuse or a character that easily flares up and a predisposition to violence. Could it be X, or even Y, we asked ourselves.

For despite any reassurance we are fed, there is violence in our national DNA. Other countries fare just as bad – our neighbour Italy is just as bad. Every day there has its stories of murders, some with a sexual background and some with a family background. So do other countries.

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But we are concerned with what is happening in our country and the figures for our country are looking very bad where femicide is concerned. The lists on social media and elsewhere of recent victims of femicide are overwhelmingly horrendous.

A few years back we thought, or were made to think, that the introduction of divorce could perhaps lead to civilised separation between incompatible couples without leading to bloodshed or violence. (I am not arguing here for the abolition of divorce).

Then, on Tuesday itself, we started to hear more details about what led to the Corradino murder. And I found that some of the murdered woman’s wider family are my friends and maybe I might have met the victim when she was still a child in one of the family’s parties. We are that near to the violence that lurks under our skin.

The Corradino murder has caused a terrible impact on our country and we must use the anger and the emotional voice of protest that has been raised to correct some of what is going wrong. It will not bring back to life the mother of two children, nor the daughter of her mother, unfortunately. There lies the limit of what the country can do.

But there is so much which can be done. We must not be fobbed off with panaceas. The national aim must be to remove as much as we can violence from our national life, including such occurrences as road rage, for instance.

We must not excuse violence of any sort and disputes must find procedures to solve the issue, procedures that work, that are effective. We must identify and remove instances where the guilty go scot-free or the innocent suffer further injustice.

And we must reject the temptation to announce some changes of procedure which in the opinion of whoever suggested it would solve or decrease the impact of the problem only to find out when it’s maybe too late that it hasn’t solved anything or even made things worse.

We have a case in point in this murder. Some time ago the decision was taken to have just one magistrate handling all domestic violence cases. At the last count this one magistrate had a backlog of around 1,500 cases to deal with, without anybody realising this was impossible or doing something about it.

Can we find out who was the wise guy who came up with this idiotic solution? When the murdered woman went to report yet another case of domestic violence she faced unacceptable delays to register her complaint. And her complaint was set to begin to be heard in November next year.

Even had she not been killed, this state of matters is clearly outrageous. And the prime minister, who one assumes would have known about the shaky working of justice, must have been having us on when he came out with the suggestion to add another magistrate to deal with domestic violence.

We are still scratching at the surface here. What about the police who should have been executing the court’s decision to protect the woman but who signally failed to do so even on the eve of the murder and despite being warned about the gravity of the situation by the lawyer of the victim.

Can we have names, please? Can some heads roll? Other countries have introduced electronic tagging for cases of stalking or when an aggressive miscreant defies court orders and approaches the victims. What’s stopping us from introducing this here?

We have become the country of immunity with an ineffective police force, and a toothless court system, where criminals of all hues run free.

I admit I am reacting with knee-jerk to this one very bad case. But the rot lies deeper.

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