A man who stands charged with raping his ex-partner when she went to his apartment to collect her engagement ring after their break-up has finally been granted bail after a judge received court transcripts she had ordered.

The bail hearing had to be postponed twice last week because the transcripts were not ready in time.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera last week fined the court administration €250 after finding it in contempt when it ignored an order to produce transcripts of the victim’s testimony so that the court could rule on a request for bail.

The judge yesterday accepted an appeal by the registrar of the criminal courts after noting that the transcripts were eventually filed and the defendant could be granted bail.

A 27-year-old Norwegian i-Gaming employee, whose name cannot be published by court order, was granted bail against a €10,000 deposit and an additional €10,000 personal guarantee. The man denies the charges.

Madam Justice Scerri Herrera ordered the man not to speak to any of the witnesses and sign the bail book daily and be home between 9pm and 7 the following morning. She also ordered him not to change his address or leave his job until the termination of the court case.

'Cannot board any boat and leave the shores'

According to his bail conditions, he also “cannot board any boat and leave the shores of the Island of Malta for no reason whatsoever”.

The man had been refused bail when he was first arraigned on April 29. The woman testified in detail before Magistrate Lara Lanfranco during the first hearing of the compilation of evidence two weeks later. The defendant was, however, again refused bail.

The man’s lawyers, Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Adreana Zammit, requested the superior courts to grant their client bail once the prosecution’s main witness had testified and her version was confirmed on oath in court.

But when the application was called by Madam Justice Scerri Herrera, the bail hearing could not be heard because the court did not have the transcript of the alleged victim’s testimony.

'Transcripts required'

The judge put off the hearing, ordering that the court administration be notified that the transcripts were required for the bail hearing. However, when the case was called, the judge was told that no transcripts had been received.

This angered Madam Justice Scerri Herrera who said this behaviour was “unacceptable” and “tantamount to contempt of court”. She said she was not in a position to consider the application “due to these administrative hiccups which are unacceptable for the administration of justice”.

The judge also complained about what she said was “lack of cooperation between the administration of the courts and the criminal court”, which she said was causing “severe disturbance to the administration of justice”.

All audio recordings of court sittings are transcribed and inserted into the case file. The issue of transcripts of court sittings has been a recurring problem in court in recent years. Delays in transcribing testimony have caused serious administrative shortcomings breaching defendants’ fundamental rights because they had to remain in preventive custody for additional days.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us