A man was handed a nine-year jail term for raping a woman at a St Julian’s car park in what a court described as a “cowardly” and “inhuman” act that shattered the victim’s intimacy and human dignity.

Eyob Melake Ecobagaber stood in court alongside an interpreter, head down as judgment was delivered over the May 2018 incident.

The police were alerted to the suspected rape that was taking place in a parking area close to Footloose.

The victim, a French woman, had stepped outside the club to smoke a cigarette when she was approached by a French-speaking man who chatted her up and walked with her towards the car park.

A second man, of average height and with curly hair, wearing sports shoes, jeans and t-shirt, came up and while the Frenchman dragged her between the parked cars and held her, the other man removed her jacket, pulled aside her pants and raped her. 

She tried to fight back, scratching and hitting her aggressor with the heel of her shoe.

The woman finally managed to slip away and ran towards an apartment block looking for help.

Police officers later described how they found the victim in shock, wearing a bra, skirt and barefoot.

She recoiled when male officers tried to approach her. 

The woman was taken to Mater Dei Hospital where a gynecologist confirmed the patient’s “distress” and fresh scratches and grazing over her body as well as blood in her private parts, indicative of forced sex.

A DNA expert confirmed traces of acid phosphatase (semen) inside the victim’s body and also on the accused’s clothes.

When delivering judgment, the court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, observed that the victim’s version had been consistent throughout.

The court, however, lamented the lack of photos at the crime scene as well as the failure to summon as witnesses third parties who had stopped the suspected rapist from getting away.

The Attorney General had failed to address such loopholes to ensure that the best evidence was put forward and to eliminate any doubt which could undermine the judicial process. 

The court also addressed the courts’ administration, urging those involved to ensure that judgments were speedily enforced.

“Failing to do so would be an injustice to society,” remarked the court.

This was said in light of the fact that the accused continued to be deemed as a first-time offender because he had not paid a €500 fine he was handed when conditionally discharged in separate proceedings, mere days before the rape. 

Since that fine was not paid, the punishment was not deemed to have been served and consequently, that sentence could not be taken into account to prove relapsing. 

What the accused did was a “cowardly” act that could possibly mar the victim for life, denting her trust in others and in life itself, observed the court.

And this was all because of a man who could not control his animal instinct which led him to commit this “inhuman” act, of extreme violence which penetrated and shattered to bits a person’s most treasured possession, namely the individual’s intimacy and human dignity. 

In light of all evidence, the court declared the accused guilty of rape, holding the victim against her will, slightly injuring her, and also committing such offences while under a suspended sentence, condemning him to a nine-year jail term. 

He was also ordered to pay €3,903 in court expert expenses. 

Senior inspector Nikolai Sant prosecuted. Lawyers Giannella de Marco and Margo Zammit Fiorentino appeared parte civile.

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