A young couple’s plans to get married in 10 days may be in jeopardy as the man was remanded in custody after he pleaded not guilty to an episode of alleged domestic violence on Wednesday morning.
A 39-year-old holder of a Bosnian passport but working and residing in Germany travelled to Malta for the specific purpose of marrying his foreign girlfriend who lives on the island.
However, the couple’s plans took an unpleasant turn following Wednesday’s incident when an argument between the future spouses escalated and turned violent, prompting the woman to seek help from the police.
Prosecuting inspector Matthew Spagnol explained in court how the woman had turned up at the local police station claiming that her drunken partner had turned aggressive, pinning her on the bed and hitting her on the face. She rushed to the police the minute she managed to slip away, visible signs of the alleged aggression on her face, the court was told.
Acting on the report, police went to the woman’s home where they found the alleged culprit fast asleep, still heavily smelling of alcohol. He was arrested and interrogated.
The man was taken to court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to involuntarily slightly injuring to the woman without intending to place her life in manifest danger and assaulting her.
He was further charged with being drunk in public, a day before the incident. Inspector Spagnol explained how the man had allegedly been causing commotion in San Ġwann on Tuesday evening around 10.30pm, before he was led away by a friend when the police intervened.
As the arraignment kicked off, the prosecutor informed the court that, following the man's arrest, his partner told the police that she wanted to withdraw her complaint and had no further interest in pressing for prosecution against the man.
Since there were no other civilian witnesses to testify against the man, this meant there was no fear of tampering with evidence, the prosecution pointed out when making submissions on the request for bail.
The only objection stemmed from the fear of absconding since the arrested man was a foreigner with no fixed ties in Malta, Inspector Spagnol argued, prompting defence lawyer Ishmael Psaila to counter that his client had firm ties with his partner who had prepared all the necessary documentation for the couple to tie the knot.
However, duty magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia said that the offences as charged were prosecutable by the police ex ufficio and were thus unaffected by the withdrawal of the alleged victim’s complaint.
Since the man shared the same address as the woman and since he had no fixed ties in Malta, the fear of absconding was a real one, the court declared, rejecting the request for bail.
“They have not changed their mind about getting married in 10 days. How will this happen if he is kept in custody?” a Bosnian interpreter asked the magistrate, relaying a question put to him by the accused.
“They have to contact their lawyer and file the necessary application in court,” was the magistrate’s final word, met with the desperate look exchanged between the couple who were later observed hugging and crying outside the courtroom.