Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Independent: Court: Court amazed at fight being classed a hate crime

12 June 2012

Two young men were each fined €500 for assaulting two young women as a way of showing off, with Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna expressing amazement that the case had been reported in the media as some hate crime because of the girls’ sexual orientation.

No evidence had been produced to show that the girls were in fact lesbian, and the young men’s behaviour towards them was their way of showing off, the magistrate said.

One of the two Ħamrun men, aged 17 and 16, who was in a balcony with members of his family, had called the young women lesbians, with one of the girls retorting. Both men and women were arraigned, as was Mary Aquilina, 35, a neighbour, who was fined €50 for verbal threats against one of the girls. The young women were both acquitted of offending the young men and injuring one of them.

The case happened on 13 January at about 7.30pm when the two young women, also aged 17 and 16, were made the butt of the young men’s ridicule. A fight that ensued saw one of the girls injured in the face. Evidence showed that the same young men had on another occasion thrown eggs at persons in the gazebo where the fight occurred.

Magistrate Apap Bologna said he considered various factors in sentencing, including that one of the young men had said he did not mind beating a young woman, and that the young women in the case were not provoking anyone. However, the court said, the young age of the men made this a non-custodial case.

Superintendent Charles Magri prosecuted. Dr Cedrid Mifsud represented the young women, Dr Michael Sciriha and Dr Lucio Sciriha appeared for the young men and Ms Aquilina.

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