A Transport Malta official has appeared in court charged with committing non-consensual sexual acts on a female co-worker and sexually harrassing her and another woman.

Clint Axisa, 42, from Fgura denied the charges when he was brought before a magistrate on Friday in the case first highlighted by independent election candidate Arnold Cassola. 

Cassola presented a four-page letter to Prime Minister Robert Abela earlier this week detailing a "filthy scandal" at the agency and claiming there was a cover-up because Axisa, an enforcement director, was close to the Labour Party. 

Axisa has already been suspended from work over the allegations.

The court heard there are two alleged victims in the case, one of whom the prosecution described as vulnerable and another, who still works at the agency. 

Axisa pleaded not guilty to charges of non-consensual sexual acts with one victim. He also denied harassing both women, subjecting them to an act of physical intimacy, subjecting them to acts bearing sexual connotations and committing these offences which he was bound to prevent, as a public officer.

'Offered money to drop complaint'

Inspector Joseph Busuttil presented Axisa's mobile phone to the court as evidence and claimed he had offered money to the father of one of the victims in exchange for dropping the complaint.

The inspector said that Axisa had also approached eight to 10 witnesses in the case, telling them how they were to testify. At the time, he had a suspicion of the charges because of reports in the media.

Defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi disputed this, saying there was a disciplinary hearing scheduled for next Monday and Axisa only spoke to witnesses because he was was to present a list by Friday. 

Azzopardi also denied any money was offered. 

"This case has taken this slant only because we're in an electoral campaign," the lawyer told the court. "He has a clean criminal record and he's usually helping police by testifying in court as Transport Malta officer."

Crying and interrupting court

Axisa had entered the court, briefly stopping to kiss his wife. He was agitated, crying and shaking his head throughout the appearance and pressing his hands together, as if to pray.

"He's impulsive. If I grant bail, he won't abide," said the magistrate, who had to repeatedly order the defendant to stop interrupting proceedings.

The prosecution objected to bail, citing the gravity of the charges, which carry a minimum jail term of three years, rising to seven due to aggravating factors such as Axisa being a public officer.

He also lives near the home of the victim's father and the woman visits there to collect her child.

The defence made lengthy submissions on bail. Axisa can offer alternative addresses, is already suspended at work and the victim's evidence is already preserved, Azzopardi argued.

Lawyer Marion Camilleri, parte civile for one of the victims, said that they did not object to bail as long as it's clear that he nor any third party does not approach her client, the victim's husband and family. 

The court upheld the request for bail against a deposit of €10,000 and personal guarantee of €30,000.

Axisa must sign the bail book three times weekly, is strictly barred from going to the workplace, or approaching prosecution witnesses, including the alleged victims and their families. He chose to reside at a Valletta residence, one of three he owns.

Inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Paul Camilleri prosecuted.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Herman Mula appeared for the defence while Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri appeared for one of the victims.

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