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