Malta
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Criminal court turns down Roderick Cassar’s bail request

The Criminal Court has rejected a request for bail filed on behalf of Roderick Cassar, who is accused of killing his estranged wife, Bernice Cassar.

Cassar, 42, from Qrendi, is pleading not guilty to charges which include the recently introduced offence of femicide, as well as holding the woman against her will, subjecting her to violence and firearms offences, amongst others.

Mr. Justice Neville Camilleri turned down Cassar’s latest request for bail -his fourth unsuccessful bid for release since his arrest in November 2022.

In the application for bail, Cassar’s defence team: lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi, Marion Camilleri and Jacob Magri, had argued amongst other things, that in high profile cases, the “public outcry” factor used by the courts when deciding on bail requests, would never go away.

The risks which the Criminal Code defined as grounds for refusing bail did not subsist in this case, they added.

Prosecutors had objected to the request, stressing the seriousness of the crime that Cassar was accused of as well as his untrustworthiness, reminding the court that he had told the victim’s relatives that they “all will pay for this, from Ħaż-Żebbuġ to Santa Luċija” and sent a chilling message on Facebook to Cassar and her colleague, which read “revenge is a must.” Other threatening messages had also been sent by the defendant to the victim’s brother.

The prosecution also reminded the court about the 17-hour standoff that took place between Cassar and police, before he was successfully taken into custody and the fact that he had used an unlicensed firearm to commit the murder.

This, it was argued, gave credence to the prosecution’s fears that Cassar could not be trusted, would commit further crimes and might abscond if granted bail.

In its decision to reject the bail request, the Criminal Court stressed that there was no automatic right to bail and that any release had to be subject to guarantees. The judge also noted that similar bail requests filed in April and May this year had both been denied.

“In addition to that said by this court on May 26 2023, following a request by the applicant filed on May 23, it is not only the presumption of innocence of the applicant and not only the importance of security for the citizenry, nor only what is known as public outcry [as factors in deciding bail requests], but there is also the public interest,” ruled the judge.

Mr. Justice Camileri also expressed reservations about testimony given this morning by the defendant’s brother, John Cassar, who had offered to act as a third-party guarantor for the purposes of bail.

Rejecting the request for his release from arrest, the judge said that it had not emerged that Roderick Cassar could adhere to any bail conditions it might impose.

Lawyers Darlene Grima, Angele Vella and Anthony Vella from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting, while lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri, Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are defence counsel to Roderick Cassar.

Lawyers Marita Pace Dimech and Ann Marie Cutajar are representing Bernice Cassar’s family as parte-civile.