A man who is awaiting trial for a murder that took place almost 35 years ago is claiming that his fundamental rights are being breached through the Attorney General’s refusal to drop charges against him.
The claims were made in a judicial protest filed on Thursday by 68-year-old father-of-four Carmel Camilleri, through his lawyers.
Camilleri was arrested and charged with wilful homicide back in 2006, 18 years after the fatal shooting of Baron Francis Sant Cassia at Mġarr.
Seventeen years down the line, he is still awaiting trial by jury and is in no way responsible for the “senseless delay”, the protest says. Nor can the delay be attributed to the judges presiding over the criminal proceedings.
Following Camilleri’s arrest, interrogation and arraignment in 2006, a bill of indictment was issued in 2008.
Since then, Camilleri said he had faithfully abided by bail conditions and attended every court hearing after spending some two years in preventive custody.
However, his physical and mental health has deteriorated so badly that nowadays he can no longer have a simple conversation with his close relatives.
In January, he was admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital following an application by his lawyers who could no longer communicate with him, let alone offer him legal advice.
Right to fair hearing within a reasonable time 'violated'
Camilleri and his lawyers argue the situation has resulted in a breach of the fundamental rights, not only of Camilleri, but also of his family.
His right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time has been violated through the unreasonable delays, the lawyers argued.
Moreover, both the accused and his family have faced endless suffering and had thus been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Although the Attorney General knew there was not “a shred of evidence” against Camilleri, the State prosecutor has allowed the case to drag on senselessly for 17 years, refusing to issue a nolle prosequi (no further action) in his regard.
Abusive behaviour by Attorney General
All this has landed the accused and his family in a “pitiable” state and this only a result of the abusive behaviour of the AG and the State Advocate, who were both targeted in the judicial protest.
Furthermore, the accused was also being discriminated against as a result of the AG’s absolute discretion, the lawyers said.
They observed that last year the AG applied a totally different yardstick when dealing with a case concerning a former director and high-ranking official of Pilatus Bank.
Although the magistrate conducting the inquiry into allegations of financial crimes at the now-shuttered bank had directed criminal action against two senior officials, namely Mehmet Tasli and Antoniella Gauci, the AG had issued a nolle prosequi in their regard.
And that decision was taken within six months of receiving the records of the inquiry, Camilleri’s lawyers pointed out, drawing a comparison to their client’s case which was handled in a very different manner.
In this case, after 17 years and with no admissible evidence against Camilleri who was in a poor state of health, the AG still did not drop charges.
Such “abusive, irresponsible and discriminatory behaviour” breached the accused’s rights, concluded his lawyers, who stated that the AG and State Advocate were being held liable.
The protesting parties also reserved the right to further legal action accordingly.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Kris Busietta signed the judicial protest.
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