A photo in front of Castille cost a young Italian tourist €2,400 after he carried his scooter up the main entrance of the auberge and down again, damaging the steps.

Vittorio Emanuele Savoia, a 20-year-old from Crotone, was tracked down by police after an officer on watch outside the Prime Minister’s Office noticed the damage to the steps.

Police checked CCTV footage showing the young man going up the steps, with a scooter in hand.

He posed for a photo near the doorway and then trudged back down, the heavy scooter held in his hands but not high enough. It brushed against the steps, causing damage. 

The suspect went to the Valletta police station when summoned, confirming he was the person in the footage and explaining that he was unaware of having caused any damage. 

He was detained overnight and escorted to court on Monday, admitting to wilful damage to the steps, which are protected as part of the island's cultural heritage. 

Assisted by an interpreter and a legal aid lawyer, the youth pleaded guilty. 

However, after the prosecuting officers informed the court that the damage, assessed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, amounted to €400, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech pointed out that the Attorney General lawyers ought to have issued charges to reflect that amount of damage. 

Instead, they had charged the youth with causing damage exceeding €1,000.

The AG lawyers explained that the original estimate of the damage was not clear. The €400 figure was determined later.

But the court warned: “you should have revised the charges. Kudos to the police who were precise in their version. When a person’s freedom is at stake, that is not how to do things,” warned Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech. 

“Such an attitude misleads the court, commits an injustice with the accused as well as with the prestigious office you represent,” went on the court. 

When delivering judgment on Monday afternoon, the court condemned the accused to a one-year jail term suspended for one year and a fine of €2,000. 

Before judgment was delivered, Inspector Kevin Pulis informed the court that the €400 had already been paid to the Superintendence. 

His defence lawyer, Leontine Calleja, argued that the damage was not caused wilfully.

“It was an accident and he is willing to reimburse the damages.” 

Inspector Gabriel Micallef prosecuted. 

Inspector Gabriel Micallef also prosecuted together with AG lawyers Nicholas De Gaetano and Ramon Bonett Sladden and superintendent of Cultural Heritage, Kurt Farrugia.

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