The Malta Independent 23 May 2024, Thursday
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Court orders arrest of man accused of hate crime against Repubblika president

Friday, 17 November 2023, 14:14 Last update: about 7 months ago

A court has ordered the arrest of a man who wrote on Facebook that he would have doused the president of anti-corruption NGO Repubblika with acid after the defendant failed to show up for a sitting.

Johan Vella had made the egregious online comment in reaction to a third party’s repost of a photo showing Robert Aquilina affixing a sign that reads “Joseph Muscat il-Prim Korrott”, to the door of Muscat’s private office (photo above), during a demonstration by anti-corruption NGO Repubblika.

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The comment which was, in Maltese, read: “With all due respect, were a clown like this guy to stick rubbish on my property, I would throw a can of acid at him. What right does he have to vandalise people’s doors? Who does this can of trash think he is?”

Aquilina posted a screenshot of the comment, which was later deleted, together with a photograph of the man who posted it, posing with Prime Minister Robert Abela.

“‘A can of acid,’ exactly what Mafia assassins have used in the past to kill and completely annihilate those who stand up to them,” Aquilina wrote.

But Vella did not show up when the case was called before magistrate Ian Farrugia on Friday. 

At the magistrate’s request, Police Inspector Joseph Busuttil, prosecuting, attempted to place a phone call to the defendant from the courtroom, but could not get through to Vella. Similar attempts by officers at the Police Force’s Floriana HQ were also unsuccessful.

The magistrate found Vella to be in contempt of court, imposing a €500 fine and ordering that the police escort the man to court under arrest for the next sitting, which will happen later this month.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is assisting Aquilina in the proceedings.

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