A man whose marriage ended on the rocks was denied bail at the end of a fiery arraignment in the presence of his wife whom he had allegedly terrified and harassed.
The 42-year-old supermarket worker from Qormi, whose name is not being published to safeguard the couple’s minor child, was escorted into the courtroom where his alleged victim waited silently, accompanied by her lawyer.
As the hearing got underway, the accused pleaded not guilty to harassing his wife, inflicting violence, including moral and psychological violence, upon her as well as holding her against her will.
Other charges related to alleged insults and threats.
The man pleaded not guilty and his lawyer put forward a request for bail, arguing that the couple’s marriage “was over” and that the accused had learnt his lesson.
“He’s terrified. He has no idea what’s going on. He has learnt his lesson,” lawyer Mario Mifsud told presiding magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace.
The court could impose stringent conditions, including a protection order, to make sure that the man does not in any way approach his wife or 15-year-old daughter, went on Mifsud.
Meanwhile, the case would run its course while the couple sorted out their marital issues in separate proceedings, said the lawyer, pointing out that recently there have been cases where an alleged drug trafficker and another man accused of rape were declared innocent after spending years in preventive custody.
However, prosecuting Inspector Audrey Micallef objected in view of the risk of tampering with evidence while also pointing out that the more serious offences had allegedly been witnessed by the couple’s daughter.
Moreover, the accused did not seem to accept the fact that his marriage was over, the prosecutor said.
That was when the woman’s lawyer, Emy Bezzina, spoke out, telling the court that both the alleged victim and her daughter were “terrified” of the accused and pointing out that the man had failed to turn up for mediation sittings at the Family Court.
But that last comment was deemed as one step too far by the defence lawyer who promptly and loudly interrupted, pointing out that Bezzina had no locus standi on the issue of bail and should not even have been allowed to intervene.
The accused’s wife stood silently to one side of the hall, close to her lawyer who kept insisting on making his point, sparking further heated remarks from the defence counsel.
With calm restored and upon submissions put forward by both parties, the court turned down the request for bail and remanded the man in custody, as his wife followed her lawyer silently out of the room.