A man who allegedly raped his friend when she turned up at his Sliema flat for a brief call before his trip to his family home in Sicily was remanded in custody upon his arraignment on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old delivery man, who is from Syracuse, was escorted to court under arrest following the incident that allegedly took place on Friday when the woman, with whom he had a long-term friendship, visited his home.

She had gone there to say goodbye before he travelled to Sicily to visit his dying mother.

Yet, what happened that day landed the man in court, facing charges of rape and holding his alleged victim against her will. 

The accused pleaded not guilty. 

His lawyer, Roberto Montalto, requested bail, pointing out that the charges related to a one-time incident, like a bolt out of the blue, after the alleged victim turned up at the accused’s home. 

But that request triggered objections by the prosecution in view of the gravity of the offence, the early stage of proceedings as well as the risk of tampering with evidence. 

Moreover, there was also the risk of absconding since the accused had no residence permit, argued AG lawyer Angele Vella. 

The defence lawyer countered that the accused had been living in Malta for the past five years and had no intention of moving elsewhere, adding that the man had wanted to visit his dying mother in Sicily.

The man was also well respected by his employers in Malta, went on Montalto.

On the day of the alleged episode, the woman had turned up uninvited at the accused’s Sliema flat, said the lawyer, pointing out that a protection order issued by the court could serve as an adequate measure to make sure that he did not approach the woman. 

However, after hearing submissions by both parties, the court, presided over by magistrate Rachel Montebello, denied the request while urging the prosecution to summon its civilian witnesses at the earliest possible. 

The court upheld a request by the prosecution, also supported by the defence, for a ban on the publication of both parties’ names.

Since the two were in a relationship, revealing the name of the accused would give away the identity of the woman, resulting in secondary victimisation.

Inspectors John Spiteri and Colin Sheldon prosecuted, assisted by AG lawyer Angele Vella. 

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