Warden's murderer loses bid to have trial annulled
Gianni Attard, the man who was jailed for life upon conviction for the murder of warden Fortunata Spiteri in Gozo, had lost a bid to have his trial annulled.
The warden was fatally stabbed while on duty on August 10, 2001. He was convicted in 2010.
In a constitutional application filed against the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, Attard argued that he was not given a fair trial because the court had considered a statement he had given to the police even though the statement was given when legal counsel was not present.
Furthermore, the court had considered the evidence given to the police by co-accused Guzeppi Farrugia, who had died during the proceedings and thus could not be cross-examined.
The court, presided by Madam Justice Anna Felice, noted that the verdict was not reached soely on the basis of those statements.
It noted that the accused had repeated his police statement also before a Magistrate. He had been given the necessary cautions before his statement to the police, and his statement was voluntary, to the extent that at times it seemed that the accused was interrogating the police, and not the other way around.
As for Farrugia's evidence before his death, the court noted case law of the European Court where it was declared that it was a fundamental aspect of the right to a fair trial that criminal proceedings should be adversarial and that there should be equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence.
However there had been cases where evidence was accepted when witnesses could not be subsequently tracked down, particularly where the evidence could be corroborated by a series of other items of evidence.
In this case the court said, the impossibility of producing the witness was nobody's fault.
The court found that Attard not suffered a breach of his rights to a fair hearing, and his application was therefore dismissed.