Prison of­fi­cer ac­cused of rap­ing 15-year-old in­mate de­nied bail

Malta Independent - - News -

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.

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