Par­lia­ment dis­cusses amend­ment in crim­i­nal code to ad­dress mis­car­riage of jus­tice

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day dis­cussed the amend­ments in the crim­i­nal code pro­posed by Dr Ja­son Az­zopardi which pro­pose the ex­ten­sion of the right of per­sons who were tried by jury to re­quest the Court of Crim­i­nal Ap­peal to rein­ves­ti­gate the case, to those con­victed by the Court of Mag­is­trates.

Dr Az­zopardi said that ac­cord­ing to aca­demic stud­ies, in the USA, 5% of the pris­on­ers in jail are be­lieved to be in­no­cent.

He ex­plained that in the early 1970s, the Mal­tese courts would hear 150 tri­als by jury each year be­cause most cases which would cause the ac­cused more than two years in prison, ended in a trial by jury. Nowa­days, the av­er­age is 15 tri­als by jury each year. Dr Az­zopardi said that today, the court of Mag­is­trates can land any­one in jail for up to 12 years.

A case heav­ily cov­ered by the me­dia was that of Emanuel Camil­leri. He had spent over 400 days in prison fol­low­ing a court case which found him guilty of abus­ing his daugh­ter.

It was later dis­cov­ered that the daugh­ter had lied about the abuse, and in a tes­ti­mony she gave she said that she had been pres­sured by her mother. Dr Az­zopardi had ar­gued that the gov­ern­ment’s pro­cras­ti­na­tion to dis­cuss his mo­tion was pre­vent­ing jus­tice from be­ing served.

“This law is about ex­tend­ing an ex­ist­ing right avail­able to those who suf­fer a mis­car­riage of jus­tice fol­low­ing a trial by jury to those suf­fer­ing the same mis­car­riage of jus­tice af­ter the sen­tence handed by the court of mag­is­trates.

“There is no pro­gres­sive or lib­eral way to look at this. There is no greater right than free­dom. And there is no greater in­jus­tice than that com­ing from jus­tice it­self.”

Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Owen Bon­nici, replied by say­ing that had the gov­ern­ment an­nounced the same pro­pos­als as the Op­po­si­tion; they would have been se­verely crit­i­cized by their coun­ter­parts for at­tempt­ing to give the prime min­is­ter with more power of crim­i­nal leg­is­la­tion.

Dr Bon­nici also said that reme­dies al­ready exist for the ex­tra or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion Dr Az­zopardi spoke about, point­ing to­ward the con­sti­tu­tional court as an ex­am­ple.

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