A woman was slapped with a €700 fine for contempt of court on Wednesday for screaming out in a courtroom where her boyfriend was being charged with selling cannabis.
The woman could barely contain her frustration when an issue arose about the true current address of the accused, Anees Badroush, a 33-year-old Libyan national. He had first taken police to a Valletta address, where he allegedly lived, then claimed that he was actually living with his girlfriend at Żabbar.
He was arrested while allegedly trying to sell drugs near the Tritons fountain in Valletta on Monday. The police caught him with 8.89 grams of cannabis. According to local laws, people can carry up to 7 grams of the drug for personal use.
On Wednesday, Badroush pleaded not guilty to cannabis trafficking and possessing the drug under circumstances denoting that the drug was not solely for his personal use, further aggravated by the fact that he was within 100 metres from a place frequented by youths.
He was also charged with breaching bail.
His lawyer flagged the “anomalous situation prevailing in this country,” since cannabis possession had been decriminalised but still, there were no authorised outlets to buy the drug.
A request for bail was objected to by the prosecution in light of the fact that the accused had allegedly breached previous bail conditions and was a recidivist.
Moreover, there was some doubt about his current address. In his statement to police he had said that he lived with his girlfriend at Żabbar but when arrested, he first accompanied the police to an apartment in Strait Street, Valletta, explained Inspectors Mark Cremona and Gabriel Micallef.
That was when the defence pointed out that the accused’s girlfriend was in the courtroom and could confirm where the accused was staying.
Magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace observed that since the woman had been seated inside the courtroom throughout the arraignment, her testimony would be compromised.
That was when the woman, seated alongside another woman behind the accused, shouted out loudly, “We told you where he lives!”
Magistrate Micallef Stafrace promptly fined her €300 fine for contempt.
As the court minuted what had happened, saying that the woman had “screamed out,” the woman again interrupted, “I didn’t scream, ta!”
“That’s €700!” the magistrate said, remarking that the court was no “Suq tal-Belt” (Valletta market) and that such interruptions amounted to contempt.
The woman then meekly gave her name and ID card to the court’s deputy registrar, while her boyfriend sat silently.
His request for bail was turned down.