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Watch: Four days delay means no chance for AFM gunner to get remedy

Gunner had released video of training exercise gone wrong

A former gunner, discharged from the Armed Forces of Malta over a leaked footage on the internet, had his civil case for a remedy rejected by the court since the suit had been registered four days too late.

Joshue Agius, engaged with the AFM in 2010, had ended in hot water after footage of an accident, during a training session for army recruits at the Safi Barracks, had ended up on YouTube and Facebook.

During this exercise, a colleague of Mr Agius had suffered injuries in a minor accident involving a fire, the whole episode being filmed on a mobile phone for future viewing by other trainees and this according to established army procedures.

Yet when this particular footage was subsequently leaked, ending up on the internet, Mr Agius was summoned by his superiors and was landed with the blame, being verbally notified of his discharge on March 17, 2015.

When on the following day, he reported for duty nonetheless, his superior told him that he could pack up and leave, only then formally handing him the discharge document.

The soldier filed proceedings against the AFM Chief Commander questioning the decision of his superior who had acted without any investigation into the filming incident.

The applicant claimed that his discharge went against the principles of natural justice and had been discriminatory in his regard.

The AFM Commander, on the other hand, had argued in his reply that the applicant had admitted to his superiors that he had posted the footage on Messenger and WhatsApp, and had also confirmed that the clip shown on YouTube was the video he had shot.

Such a breach of official secrets act amounted to an abuse of the soldier’s position and thus merited his dismissal, the Commander had argued.

However, before even entering into the merits of the case, the court observed that, as had been pleaded by the respondent, this action for judicial review of an administrative act should have been instituted within six months from March 18, 2015, the day of the applicant’s formal discharge.

However, the action had been filed on September 22, namely four days after the six-month prescriptive period, leading the First Hall of the Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti, to throw out the applicant’s case.

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