A man who is awaiting a trial for allegedly murdering his estranged wife has lost a human rights case in which he claimed that his right to a fair trial had been breached with the removal of unlawful statements from the evidence.

Andrew Mangion had claimed under interrogation that two armed men had grabbed his wife, Eleonor Mangion-Walker, when she was leaving his Swieqi garage and murdered her before his eyes.

He also told the police that the two men held them at gunpoint. He claimed that one of the men got a plank of wood out of a shoulder bag and repeatedly bashed Mangion-Walker on the head with it.

These statements had been removed from the case file following a request by his lawyer but Mangion is now saying that he had not instructed his lawyer, whom he has now changed, to ask for their removal. 

He failed to convince Madam Justice Joanne Vella Cuschieri that he was not guaranteed a fair trial because this piece of evidence – which he says will prove his innocence – was not admitted as evidence.

The court also threw out his complaint that the pre-trial publicity given to his case, with all the media reports and details that emerged from the compilation of evidence, was detrimental to his case because the jurors who will be chosen to hear his case have already been “prejudiced” against him.

Mangion is facing a potential life sentence for his alleged involvement in the murder of his estranged wife, whose body was found by the police dumped under wooden pallets in a Qormi warehouse on July 3, 2016.

Mangion turned himself in a few days after the murder. He stands charged with killing the mother of his young daughter whom he says he has not seen for nine years.

The court heard how Mangion had consulted a lawyer of his choice before his interrogation soon after the murder. The law at the time only allowed suspects to consult their lawyer for up to one hour before their interrogation. At a later stage, the lawyer’s presence was made mandatory.

Mangion’s statement to the police during his two interrogations on July 12 and 13, 2016  was “quite voluminous” and, although he did not admit to having murdered Mangion-Walker, there were several instances where he incriminated himself.

According to recent rulings given by the constitutional court, statements released without the right to legal assistance during interrogation did not automatically result in a breach of the right to a fair hearing.

The court said it was premature, at this stage of the proceedings, to declare that any breach had occurred as the entire judicial process had not yet been concluded.

Madam Justice Vella Cuschieri ruled that the criminal court was procedurally and legally correct when it rejected his request for the statement to be readmitted as evidence, especially knowing that the statements were released in breach of his own rights.

On the other hand, she said, nothing prevents Mangion from testifying and giving his version to the jury where he can also hand them a copy of his police statements because he cannot violate his own fundamental rights.

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