Prosecutors’ decision to drop domestic violence charges against a man who fired a gun inside their home has been slammed by human rights advocacy groups.

Sean Anthony McGahren, 43, was let off a fine after his partner withdrew her complaint and renounced all action against him.

Mr McGahren had allegedly fired a revolver inside a penthouse while arguing with his partner, injuring her and breaking two window panes in the process.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, a group of nine NGOs and two activists said they were gravely concerned by the way things had unfolded in court, with the message being that “aggressors can get away with almost anything when committing an act of domestic violence.”

They pointed out that proceedings against Mr McGahren could have continued despite the victim’s decision to withdraw her complaint, since domestic violence was an ex officio crime – meaning criminal proceedings do not require the victim’s consent.

READ: More protection for domestic violence victims

This was further consolidated by Malta’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention earlier this year, the NGOs noted.

“It is therefore of great concern to see that the highest authorities in our country, the very ones that are meant to protect the vulnerable are still ignorant of the law and the rights of victims,” they said.

The groups noted that this was not the first time the courts had handled domestic violence cases in this way, but highlighted how in this particular case a gun had been used and shots fired.
“We question whether had the situation not been a domestic one, the offender would have got away with a fine,” they added.

The statement was signed by theWomen’s Rights Foundation, Victim Support Malta, SOAR, St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Men Against Violence, The Good Shepherd Sisters - Dar Merhba Bik Foundation, Programm Sebh - Dar Qalb Ta’Gesu, PHROM, Aditus Foundation, Malta Humanist Association , Loraine Spiteri and Marceline Naudi.

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