A Somali man who made a throat-cutting gesture towards a welfare officer outside a courtroom has been jailed for contempt of court after telling a magistrate the matter was none of his business.
Sahir Saif Faisil Ibrahim appeared before magistrate Joe Mifsud in a case where he is accused of indecently exposing himself to detention officers and throwing a glass bottle at one of them.
This morning he was also accused of threatening to kill an AWAS coordinator who was trying to help him.
The man has earned himself an unenviable reputation with the authorities for being uncooperative, alcoholic and prone to violent outbursts. The court was told that there were problems with appointing a psychiatrist for him.
Inspector Alfredo Mangion told the magistrate that the accused didn’t want to come to the courtroom from the court lockup, necessitating the inspector to go in person to bring him up.
After sauntering into the courtroom, Ibrahim shushed his interpreter and refused to answer questions about the incident outside the courtroom.
“Talk about other things because that is none of your business,” Ibrahim replied through the terrorised interpreter.
Magistrate Mifsud found him guilty of contempt of court and jailed him for two months. “Now I’ll tell you what is none of my business,” said magistrate angrily.
The man’s legal aid lawyer, Graziella Tanti, said he was refusing to speak to her. She had tried several times to communicate with him but he refused to speak to her or the interpreter, she said. For this reason she explained that she was unable to present her defence at law. “This woman cannot be my lawyer. I need another lawyer,” piped up the accused. “I know her. Before, I fight with her.”
The court said it didn’t see a valid reason for a change in the legal aid lawyer. “If the accused is not happy with the service he is being given, he has the opportunity to appoint a lawyer against payment. It’s enough that the state is giving him legal aid in these proceedings. The court cannot accept someone expecting the legal aid system be a la carte.”
Angela Marinkovic Cassar, a detention officer at the Marsa open centre took the witness stand. She told the court that on July 7th a man had started insulting security staff and saying “f’**xx Malta”. “Then he pulled down his pants and threw a bottle at us.”
“Today he looked at one of my coordinators and pretended to cut his throat and said ‘I will really kill you.’ This happened outside the courtroom.”
AWAS coordinator Christopher Camilleri testified next, explaining that AWAS deals with the Hal Far and Marsa open centres, providing accommodation and assisting asylum seekers in their day to day needs.
“He told me I swear I’ll kill you,” said Camilleri in reference to today’s incident.
The magistrate was angered by the words. “So you pretend to cut the throat of someone who tries to help you?” he asked the accused.
“The court will protect these officials, even if I’m alone in Malta I will protect these people, police, wardens, detention officers, teachers headmasters. It cannot be that they aren’t allowed to do their work. This is why I took immediate action against him for threatening a witness.”
The case continues in October. Ibrahim is unlikely to see bail before then.