A University student has been released on bail after being charged with raping a woman three years ago.
Inspector Bernardette Valletta arraigned the 21-year-old, who cannot be named by court order, before magistrate Nadine Lia this morning, accusing him of raping the woman on 17 December 2016.
His lawyer, Giannella De Marco, contested the validity of the arrest and summoned the inspector to the witness stand. The inspector explained that a warrant of arrest was issued for the man, who was later arrested after being asked to visit the Msida police station. De Marco suggested that the woman who had made the rape claim had chatted with the accused online on the day after the alleged sex assault, telling him “how much fun she had.”
The court upheld an objection to this question, raised by the prosecution and parte civile lawyer Lara Dimitriyevic, as this it dealt with the merits of the case, which was not being discussed during this sitting.
The accused pleaded not guilty.
De Marco asked for bail and for a ban on the publication of the name of the accused.
The accusations date back to December 2016 and the report took place three months ago, she argued. Had the inspector seen any risk of tampering with evidence, action would have taken action.
Furthermore, the victim had said the encounter was fun, she said.
Magistrate Lia decreed the arrest as being valid.
The accused has a clean criminal record, argued De Marco. “The so-called victim showed no fear of the accused and continued to chat with him up to May 2018. There were never any threats.”
The accused’s parents were prepared to act as sureties, De Marco added.
Inspector Valletta countered that the woman lived in the same town as the accused. Dimitriyevic added that his relatives had allegedly gone to her relatives asking for information just yesterday.
He was not with them, she said, answering a question by the court.
Dimitriyevic asked for a protection order if bail was to be granted.
De Marco pointed out that the parents’ actions had nothing to do with the accused, who had already been arrested and was being held incommunicado at the time. They simply wanted information about what happened to their son, she said.
Bail was granted on condition that he does not go to any address where the victim lives and was secured by a deposit of €1,000 and a personal guarantee of €5,000. The court imposed a protection order in favour of the alleged victim.
As the prosecution did not object to the ban on the publication of the accused’s name, the court imposed reporting restrictions on the name of the accused and his alleged victim.