Prison officer accused of raping 15-year-old inmate denied bail
A prison warder has been charged with raping a 15-year-old female inmate at the young offenders unit (YOURS) and sexually harassing another.
Joseph Zammit, 52, from Kirkop, was arraigned before Magistrate Audrey Demicoli this morning, accused of aggravated rape, participation in sex acts with underage persons, harassment and committing a crime he was dutybound to prevent.
Zammit has pleaded not guilty to raping the 15-year-old inmate as well as to subjecting her and another underage inmate to unwanted sexual advances.
Lawyer Franco Debono requested bail for the man.
Debono argued that there was a hierarchy of rights and the presumption of innocence was topmost. “It is the most fundamental rule of our legal system, from which other rights emerge.”
“It shouldn’t be an addendum to the proceedings... The presumption of innocence means that the accused is to be treated as innocent and granted bail,” he said. The principal witnesses in this case are already incarcerated, he said and therefore hard for the man to suborn.
But prosecuting Inspector Joseph Busuttil expressed surprise at bail being requested at all. “We have a 15-year-old raped. Several witnesses are his colleagues. If he is given bail, there is a real fear that they will be approached,” he said.
The court denied the man bail, ordering that he be held at the forensic ward of Mount Carmel Hospital.