An argument between two St Paul’s Bay residents over a parking slot, possibly fueled by a language misunderstanding, cost one of them a finger and landed the other in court. 

The incident took place on Sunday afternoon around 3pm at Triq il-Port Ruman, when a verbal spat broke out between Miodrag Simonovic, a 39-year-old Serbian cab driver and a 59-year-old Maltese man.

The situation allegedly escalated as one of the men insisted on reserving the free parking space for a tow truck that was expected to call. 

The verbal argument, possibly made worse by a language barrier, gave way to blows and ultimately, the Serb allegedly bit off the other man’s finger. 

Police were called to intervene. 

The Maltese man was subsequently certified as suffering grievous injuries, while the Serb, who had also suffered a battering, was taken into police custody.

Upon his arraignment on Monday, the Serb pleaded not guilty to grievously injuring the victim and breaching public peace. 

His legal aid lawyer, Daniel Attard, put forward a request for bail, arguing that the accused had been living in Malta for the past 11 years and was “an outstanding citizen” registering no brush with the law. 

The man worked for a local transport company for the last three years while living in rented accommodation. 

Moreover, the accused himself had been attacked, his lawyer argued. 

In light of the circumstances of the case, prosecuting Inspector Godwin Scerri did not object to the request, explaining that the accused had also suffered injuries in the fight and criminal action could possibly be taken against the other man who was undergoing surgery while court proceedings were underway. 

A protection order against the accused and stringent bail conditions were, however, requested.

After hearing submissions by both parties, the court, presided over by magistrate Astrid May Grima, upheld the request against a deposit of €1,000, a personal guarantee of €10,000, an order to sign the bail book daily and to abide by a curfew between 11pm and 6am. 

While barring the man from approaching prosecution witnesses in any way, the court placed the accused under a protection order, explaining that he was not to contact or harass the alleged victim until final judgment. 

Since the man did not have sufficient funds to secure his immediate release, he was escorted to Corradino Correctional Facility until contact could be made with a relative who could source the €1,000 payment, guaranteeing his personal freedom. 

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