A man going through criminal proceedings landed under preventive custody after allegedly making a hand gesture at a prosecution lawyer he came across last Friday night at a Valletta bar, past his curfew hours.
The lawyer, working at the Attorney General’s office, had filed a police report following that chance encounter with 26-year-old Josef Majri whom he was prosecuting in separate proceedings.
During the arraignment on Friday afternoon, prosecuting Inspector Robert Azzopardi explained that the incident happened at around 12.17am just as the lawyer was exiting the bar in Strait Street.
He spotted the accused who allegedly gestured, pointing two fingers at him.
That gesture was uncalled for and prompted the lawyer to report the matter to the police, said the inspector.
The police later obtained CCTV footage from the bar which appeared to show the accused gesturing with his hands and mouth.
However, that particular pointed fingers gesture had apparently landed in a “blind spot” and was not captured on neither the outward nor inward focused cameras.
Majri was arrested and charged with threatening the lawyer as well as breaching two previous bail decrees.
He pleaded not guilty.
Defence lawyer Franco Debono contested the charges concerning the alleged threats, after skimming through the report filed by the alleged victim.
The AG lawyer had simply filed the report for “reference purposes” and in all fairness had stated that he never felt threatened, argued Debono.
Moreover, Debono stressed the fact that, as a public official, he owed respect to both police officers and AG lawyers who were doing their job, and encouraged his clients to show respect too.
As for the alleged breach of bail for being outside after curfew hours, recent amendments to the law granted the courts discretion to assess such breaches and the relative punishment accordingly.
Majri had a fixed job and a stable relationship, further noted the lawyer.
After hearing submissions, the court, presided over by Magistrate Noel Bartolo, turned down the request in light of the circumstances of the case, the accused’s criminal record and the nature of the charges, concluding that he was not deemed sufficiently trustworthy.
The court directed the prosecution to summon civilian witnesses, including the alleged victim, at the first hearing.
Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb were also defence counsel.