Gambian man ir­ri­tates the courts af­ter at­tempt­ing to change plea mul­ti­ple times

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

A Gambian man, who gave three sep­a­rate pos­si­ble dates of birth when giv­ing his state­ment to the po­lice, pleaded not guilty to the theft of an iPad and be­ing in pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions.

Os­man Jarju caused ten­sions to rise in the court room af­ter he con­firmed that he had been read the charges brought against him, pleaded not guilty and then at­tempted to change his plea no less than three times. No re­quest for bail was made, be­cause the ac­cused has no per­ma­nent place of res­i­dence. The rea­son for try­ing to change his plea so of­ten, Mr Jarju said, was that he could not un­der­stand Mag­is­trate Claire Strafrace Zam­mit.

She ob­jected to this, by say­ing that the ac­cused had told of­fi­cers he spoke English, and co­op­er­ated with them us­ing English when de­liv­er­ing his state­ment to the po­lice. She also scolded him for be­ing ob­struc­tive af­ter he said that he was only manag­ing to un­der­stand her to­wards the end of the hear­ing, and that is why he wanted to change his plea. She re­peat­edly pointed out how slowly she was speak­ing, for the sake of clar­ity.

Mr Jarju is ac­cused of break­ing into a car and steal­ing an iPad on 21 Jan­uary, 2016. He is also charged with be­ing in pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana, af­ter po­lice found the sub­stance on him on 22 Jan­uary, 2016, and again on 1 De­cem­ber, 2016. Af­ter po­lice found him in pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana just one day af­ter he was caught steal­ing an iPad, po­lice is­sued a court sum­mons. The ac­cused dis­ap­peared for 11 months un­til he was found again in pos­ses­sion of the sub­stance on 1 De­cem­ber.

It is un­clear why the ac­cused was not placed un­der ar­rest af­ter the events on 21 and 22 Jan­uary.

Af­ter plead­ing not guilty, with le­gal aid Mark An­thony Mif­sud and Mag­is­trate Stafrace Zam­mit re­peat­edly ask­ing him if he was sure and Mr Jarju con­firm­ing, he then tried to change the plea to guilty one last time.

The courts did not al­low this in view of the many chances given to the ac­cused, and most likely due to the at­ti­tude be­ing dis­played by the ac­cused in court. Mag­is­trate Stafrace Zam­mit in­formed him that he could change his plea to guilty at the next court hear­ing.

In­spec­tor Ni­cholas Vella pros­e­cuted.

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