In a ruling held on the 6th of October 2023, the court acquitted a 65-year-old man from Żejtun, thanks to the efforts of EMA Advocates Partner Dr Ishmael Psaila and Dr Arthur Azzopardi. The case, which alleged sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl, came to a dramatic conclusion when Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera dismissed the charges against the defendant on a Friday evening, in a judgment that highlighted serious flaws in the investigation.
The trial, captured the nation’s attention as the defendant stood accused of engaging in sexual activity with a minor who was a relative of his partner. The incident reportedly occurred in May 2021, inside the man’s garage in Żejtun after the girl had volunteered to accompany him to pick up takeaway food for her parents. The accusations surfaced when the child confided in her learning support educator, leading to an investigation by child support services and subsequent police involvement.
The defendant, a pensioner, consistently maintained his innocence throughout the trial, a stance that ultimately proved crucial in the courtroom. Despite being released on bail, his time in preventive custody was prolonged after his partner attempted to contact the alleged victim’s family, creating an added layer of complexity to the case.
During the trial, the defence team led by Dr. Ishmael Psaila, raised critical questions about the integrity of the police investigation. The team argued that law enforcement failed to adhere to established guidelines, notably those outlined in the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Lanzarote Convention. These discrepancies, coupled with inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s testimony, cast doubt on the credibility of the accusations.
In the judgment, Madam Justice Scerri Herrera expressed significant reservations about the girl’s account. Shortcomings in the police investigation were highlighted, and the Judge emphasised that vital evidence could have been altered during the course of the case. Notably, the court observed the defendant’s account, which starkly contrasted with the ever-changing narrative presented by the girl. Her story, which shifted with each retelling, raised serious doubts about its authenticity.
Furthermore, the court acknowledged the child’s vivid sexual imagination and early initiation into sexual activities at the age of 12, involving an even younger boy. These revelations reinforced the defence’s argument, painting a picture of a young girl whose testimony lacked consistency and reliability.
EMA Advocates takes immense pride in Dr. Ishmael Psaila’s legal acumen and dedication to justice. This case stands as a testament to EMA Advocates’ commitment to defending the rights of the accused and ensuring a fair and just legal system for all. EMA Advocates reaffirms its mission to champion justice, uphold the rule of law, and protect the innocent.