The Maltese Law Courts: A Guide to Double Standards

The Maltese Law Courts have gotten their fair share of stick over the years.  Be it for imprisoning someone for 11 years for growing some weed; be it for handing more suspended sentences out than Serkin hands out pastizzi on a Monday morning; or be it letting 12 year olds parade around the island in BMWs, the courts have drawn criticism from practically every corner of the island.  However, today’s news is well and truly the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.

A couple of weeks ago, teacher Dorianne Camilleri was sentenced to 5 years in prison for involuntary homicide after she ran over and hence killed 64 year old Alfred Zammit in Mdina Road, Attard back in 2011.  She also grievously injured the victim’s sister; 75 year old Carmela Zahra.  Whilst it’s obviously never nice for someone to die; the public were outraged at the decision – and rightly so.  Evidence emerged that the siblings had crossed the road recklessly from where they were DESPITE the fact that there was a pelican crossing only a few metres down the road.  Furthermore, Ms. Camilleri was driving at a speed of 50 km/h; well within the speed limit. What court in their right mind would convict the driver in a case where it is so obviously not the driver’s fault?

You’d think however, that the courts couldn’t make their public approval rating any worse even if they tried after this.  But, lo and behold; they have somehow managed to do so.  News emerged today that a certain Matthew Barbara, aged 25, had been sentenced to 350 hours of community service, a license suspension of 3 months and a fine of 80 euros for killing Rosianne Azzopardi, 26, by causing a full frontal car crash back in 2010.  The court concluded that the crash happened as a result of “negligent, perilous and reckless” driving.  Furthermore, evidence was brought forward that showed that the accused was driving at 105 km/h at the time of the impact.  Ms. Azzopardi was killed instantly; but luckily her 11 month old baby survived the crash without injury.   He was found guilty of involuntary homicide but given only the sentence mentioned above.

I’m sorry but really?  Please excuse me for coming across as harsh here; but what was the Magistrate on when he came up with this sentence, knowing full well about the shitstorm that the courts were already under the lens for, for a sentencing related to an extremely similar case?  I can understand wanting to give a harsh sentence to try make people be more careful.  But at least stick to the damn principle you’re setting in!!

My question is this; how can someone be sentenced to 5 years of jail time for a fatal road accident that she wasn’t her fault, and then how can someone be sentenced to a month and a half of community work (that’s how it works out if you spend 8 hours a day) and a fine the equivalent of a month of stipend, for a fatal road accident that was absolutely his fault?

I know it’s always been difficult to try to find an explanation for some things that go on in this godforsaken country; but this is just beyond belief, even by Malta’s standards.

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Albert Galea

A 21 year old History student (no, I’m not as boring as that makes me sound) and footballer who has an opinion on virtually everything. Known to be quite loud with said opinion. Caution required when approaching before 10am.

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