Three young men who allegedly gang-raped a 20-year old woman, in what was described by the prosecution as “one of the most shocking cases investigated,” have been remanded in custody.
The men, aged 25, 23 and 22, all from Siġġiewi, pleaded not guilty to raping their alleged victim, engaging in sexual acts and holding the woman against her will.
Although details of the crime were scanty, the abuse took place last summer when the men lured their friend to a field in Zebbuġ under the pretext of watching the fireworks display.
That was where the alleged gang rape took place.
The woman’s ordeal came to light months later when she recounted her experience to members of the Vice Squad, pointing a finger at a brother of one of the co-accused before later spilling the beans on the three.
The brother of one of the co-accused was arraigned over similar charges earlier.
One of the three was separately charged with committing the alleged crimes during the operative term of a suspended sentence and relapsing.
Defence lawyers requested a ban on the publication of the names of the accused, with lawyer Stefano Filletti arguing that such cases generated great media interest which was sometimes “not justified” at a stage when all three were still protesting their innocence.
Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, appearing parte civile, added that publication of the names would also run counter to the interests of the alleged victim since everyone knew the company she was keeping with.
While two of the co-accused did not request bail, the third man, also afflicted by a form of disability, requested release from preventive arrest since he is about to start a training course leading up to a new job, specifically tailored to suit his needs.
Magistrate Doreen Clarke, upheld the request for the ban on all names, whilst turning down the request for bail.
As for another of the accused, the court strongly urged the Director of Prison to send the man, certified by a psychiatrist, to the Forensic Ward.
Prosecuting Inspector John Spiteri informed the court that the victim would testify once forensic tests were concluded.
Inspector Kylie Borg also prosecuted.
Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Stephen Tonna Lowell were counsel to the 25-year old.
Lawyer Leslie Cuschieri was counsel to the 23-year old. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela were parte civile.
Lawyer Roberto Montalto was counsel to the 22-year old.
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