Bernice Cassar murder: Estranged husband pleads not guilty
Roderick Cassar has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his estranged wife Bernice Cassar.
His arraignment took place on Thursday afternoon at 2.30pm. He is the first person to be charged with willful femicide, an aggravated version of the homicide offence.
The legal concept was introduced earlier this year following the violent murder of Paulina Dembska in Sliema on 2 January. The new law allows judges to give harsher sentences for murders committed with “femicidal intent.”
Cassar was also charged with holding the victim against her will, using violence, including moral and psychological violence, using a firearm while committing a crime, and carrying a weapon without a permit.
He was also charged with stealing the victim’s mobile phone and car keys, and wilful damage to her property. He was accused of breaching a probation order and insulting a third party - believed to be a civilian who had tried to intervene on the morning of the murder.
Roderick Cassar, 42, from Pieta but residing in Qrendi, was arrested in his home after a 17hour standoff with the police in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
He did not request bail. Lawyers
Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri asked that the accused be kept in the prison’s forensic unit. The prosecution did not object to this request.
The court, presided by Magistrate Astrid May Grima, ruled that the Corradino Correctional Facility will establish where best to keep the accused at this stage.
The Court will send the acts of the case to the court registrar so that this case can be assigned in accordance with law.
The murder of Bernice Cassar took place on Tuesday at around 8am.
Bernice Cassar had filed several domestic violence reports against her husband, leading to the police pressing criminal charges against him earlier this year.
A court ordered Roderick Cassar not to approach his estranged wife, but he allegedly repeatedly violated that protection order. Proceedings against the man related to domestic abuse were due to start in November 2023.
The couple had been married for nine years.
Lawyers Angele Vella, Anthony Vella, and Darlene Grima appeared on behalf of the Attorney General. Inspectors Shawn Pawley, Wayne Camilleri and Paul Camilleri are prosecuting. Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are defence counsel.