The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Magistrate refuses Roderick Cassar's request to suspend murder case pending femicide challenge

Wednesday, 21 February 2024, 13:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

A magistrate has refused murder suspect Roderick Cassar's request to suspend the compilation of evidence until his constitutional challenge to the femicide law is settled.

Cassar is accused of murdering his estranged wife Bernice Cassar in what was the first case falling within the parameters of a new femicide law. He is pleading not guilty.

Cassar is challenging the femicide law in the constitutional court, claiming it is discriminatory and in breach of his human rights.


However, Magistrate Anne Marie Thake ruled on Wednesday against Cassar's request to stay criminal proceedings until the constitutional court reaches its conclusion.

The magistrate said that at this stage the court was only gathering evidence and would not be deciding on the merits of the case. She added that there was no decision yet by the constitutional court to stop the criminal proceedings against Cassar.

Bernice Cassar was shot at point blank outside her workplace in November 2022. The 40-year-old mother-of-two died on the spot. She had filed multiple police reports against her ex-husband before the murder.

Just days before she was killed, her lawyer pleaded with the police to take action against her ex-husband for breaching a protection order issued by the court.

The concept of femicide as an aggravating factor of wilful homicide was introduced following the murder of Paulina Dembska. An accused person facing murder charges that are also classified as a femicide cannot plead 'sudden passion' as a mitigating factor.

Cassar is arguing in front of the constitutional court that the new law is discriminatory, sexist, totally counterproductive and breached the right to a fair hearing.

The prosecution has argued that the suspension of criminal proceedings pending the constitutional court's ruling was a measure to delay proceedings unnecessarily.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi, Marion Camilleri and Jacob Magri are assisting Cassar. Lawyer Julian Farrugia is representing the State Advocate. Lawyers Marita Pace Dimech, Rodianne Sciberras and Ann Marie Cutajar are appearing parte civile for the victim's family.



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