A magistrates’ court, faced with the umpteenth backtracking by an alleged victim of domestic violence, has observed that this frequent occurrence spelt “enormous frustration” for the police and a waste of time for the courts.
The comments surfaced in two separate judgments delivered by magistrate Ian Farrugia which dealt with, what appears to have become, a familiar scenario in cases stemming from charges of domestic violence.
Such a situation was one “of not little importance,” said the court, observing that often the prosecution’s case hinged upon the testimony of the alleged victim who, when called to testify against a spouse or partner, would refuse to do so, as she or he had every right to do at law.
“The fear of such an alleged victim suffering further victimization, if pressured to testify, is a real one indeed,” the court observed.
This appeared to be the case of one woman who was punched in the face by her husband after an outing to the beach with her friends.
Judging her bathing suit to have been “indecent,” the man had allegedly punched his wife on the nose and slammed her laptop on the floor, damaging the €900-worth device.
Yet when the incident landed in court, the alleged victim had refused to testify, sticking firmly to her decision all throughout and even refusing to be examined by a medico-legal expert.
The woman said that she had suffered no injuries, unlike what she had stated in her complaint to the police.
Failing sufficient evidence, the prosecution’s case faltered.
Unfortunately, in such circumstances, the alleged victim is “solely responsible” for the final outcome of the case, namely, the acquittal of the alleged aggressor, the court remarked.
Such an “emphatic” refusal” by the alleged victim effectively frustrated all the work put in by police officers and social workers, as well as, “last but not least” the courts who, after devoting time and effort to hear such cases, were left with insufficient evidence to convict the alleged aggressor.
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