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President clarifies that he had prerogative on granting pardon

President George Abela clarified this morning that it had been his prerogative whether or not to grant a pardon to a woman who was jailed for refusing her husband access to their son.

Speaking in a radio interview on the PBS programme Ghandi xi Nghid, Dr Abela said the President did not simply act on the advice given to him (by the government) as some journalists had written, but he could exercise his own prerogative.

In this case, he said, he had given importance to the views of the couple's son, whom he had met, the Cabinet, Attorney General and the Police, among others.

He also pointed out that this had been a partial pardon in that the woman had already served some 20 days in prison.

He also said that he has another pending request for another pardon to the same woman over another case related to access. He, therefore, could not comment further.

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS

The following is what the Constitution of Malta says: 

93. (1) The President shall have power to -
(a) grant to any person concerned in or convicted of any offence a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;

(b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any sentence passed on that person for any offence;

(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence; or

(d) remit the whole or part of any sentence passed on any person for an offence or for any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of any offence.

(2) (a) Where any person has been sentenced to death by any court in Malta, the President shall cause a written report of the case from the trial judge, or, in the case of a court-martial the person presiding, and such other information derived from the record of the case or elsewhere as the President may require, to be sent to the Minister responsible for justice.

(b) The said Minister shall send such written report and information (if any) to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet shall advise the President whether he should grant the offender a pardon or respite in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by this article.

(As downloaded from the website of the Office of the President)

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