A man has been cleared of shooting his father after he refused to testify against his son.
Peter Azzopardi told Magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace that he did not want to testify against his son Steven, 37, who stood charged with trying to kill him, threatening him and attempting extortion.
The shooting incident took place outside their home in Għargħur in April 2018 when a family dispute over property heated up.
The father was shot in the shoulder in a field just off Sqaq it-Xaqquf and his son was arrested shortly afterwards.
Despite having a 0.22mm bullet lodged in his right shoulder, the injuries were classified as slight in nature.
The accused, Steven Azzopardi, was granted bail upon arraignment, pleading his innocence from the beginning. The firearm was never found.
During the first session of the compilation of evidence a week after the shooting, Peter Azzopardi declared under oath that he did not want to testify against his son and that he had since forgiven him.
His declaration meant the prosecution had to do without the testimony of the sole eyewitness of the alleged crime.
The accused, Steven Azzopardi, was granted bail upon arraignment, pleading his innocence from the beginning
According to the Criminal Code, an alleged victim of an offence involving domestic violence may request the court to stay proceedings against the alleged perpetrator but the court may decide to carry on, considering the best interests of the complainant, any minors involved, and any other relevant third parties.
The Attorney General’s office insisted that the case must continue and the accused must face a trial by jury.
The compilation of evidence continued for six years, until all other prosecution witnesses testified, including police officers, scene-of-crime officers, forensic officers, court-appointed experts, medical and ballistic experts.
When the prosecution rested its case on Friday, defence lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri asked the court to stay proceedings, insisting that if the prosecution’s only eyewitness was still refusing to testify, going before a jury was going to be a futile exercise.
Magistrate Micallef Stafrace upheld the request, ruling that it was amply clear that Peter Azzopardi, even in the presence of his lawyer, wanted the case against his son to stop here.
She therefore ruled that the case against Steven Azzopardi had been extinguished and cleared him of all the charges brought against him.
Police Inspector Roderick Spiteri prosecuted. Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri were defence counsel. Lawyer David Gatt appeared parte civile.