Hunger strike prisoner 'had a good breakfast'
A Frenchman detainee, who was supposed to have been on hunger strike since Wednesday in protest at an extradition order, had a good breakfast yesterday and was even caught with Mars bars in his cell, a court heard.
His defence lawyer, Emmy Bezzina, who is appealing the extradition, insisted, however, that his client was on a hunger strike, disorientated and not in a healthy state.
Alain Schmitt, 49, a diabetic and 98 per cent blind, was brought into the court room before Chief Justice Vincent De Gaetano in a wheelchair, crouching to one side and with a drip attached to his arm.
The lawyer asked for a doctor to establish whether his client was in a fit condition to withstand the proceedings but prosecuting lawyer Donatella Frendo Dimech, from the Attorney General's Office, informed the country's top judge that Mr Schmitt had taken breakfast that same morning.
This was corroborated by consultant psychiatrist Joseph Spiteri, who testified. Dr Spiteri said he had examined the patient at Mount Carmel Hospital, where Mr Schmitt is being detained after the hunger strike declaration on Wednesday morning, and tried to establish whether he was suffering from mental illness. He found no such problems, adding that the man's diabetes was being treated at Mount Carmel on care instructions from Mater Dei Hospital.
Moreover, the psychiatrist said the patient had been caught with Mars bars in his cell. On finding this out, he had given instructions for Mr Schmitt's food to be controlled, so he could not use chocolate to raise the amount of sugar in his blood to dangerous levels, probably in a bid to be sent to hospital.
After he finished giving evidence, the court adjourned for 15 minutes while Dr Spiteri examined the patient.
He reported back that Mr Schmitt was lucid and following the court proceedings but was suffering from what is known as factitious disorder, which is a syndrome affecting people under a lot of stress.
According to a medical definition, factitious disorder occurs when a person acts as if s/he has a physical or mental illness when it is not the case, deliberately creating or exaggerating symptoms.
The Chief Justice then ordered that the appeal proceedings continue. Judgment is expected on Tuesday.
Mr Schmitt and his 47-year-old girlfriend, Laurence Liegeois, are wanted by the French authorities after they escaped from France where they were convicted of kidnapping and extortion, among other things.
An extradition order against them was issued last month and they appealed. They also appealed a decision to deny them bail but lost the case.
Their lawyer has also filed a constitutional application claiming breach of human rights over the bail denial and the extraction order.