Transport Malta’s Director of Enforcement, Clint Axisa, has been taken to court under arrest, charged with sexually harassing employees and committing an offense he was required to prevent.
At the end of the 45-minute session, Axisa was released on bail against a deposit of €10,000 and a personal guarantee of €30,000, being also ordered to reside at another address, as he lived near the one of the parents of his alleged victim.
Tensions were noticeable in magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit’s courtroom this afternoon as Axisa, 42, from Fgura was taken in for questioning by inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Paul Camilleri.
He was accused of committing a non-consensual sexual act on a woman by abusing his position as a public official, harassing her and another woman, subjecting them to an act of physical intimacy, making them unwelcome advances that could be considered “offensive, humiliating, degrading or intimidating”, and committing an offense which he was required to ensure did not occur.
The defendant hugged and kissed his wife as he was led into the courtroom at 2 p.m., which immediately earned him a reprimand from the magistrate.
Axisa, who was assisted by attorneys Arthur Azzopardi and Herman Mula, pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested bail.
Inspector Busuttil showed the defendant’s mobile phone and asked the court to appoint an expert to analyze its contents. The court ordered him to show it when the case was assigned to the judge-rapporteur.
The prosecution opposed the bail request, pointing out that the charges, which carry a minimum sentence of three to seven years in prison, were also aggravated because of his position as a public official.
Axisa interrupted the inspector, protesting that “I am not a civil servant”. After being told to be quiet by his lawyers and the magistrate, Busuttil went on to explain that he also lived directly across from the parents of one of the alleged victims.
Busuttil told the court that police had spoken to about ten other potential witnesses and discovered that they had already been interviewed individually by Axisa, who allegedly gave them a briefing and demanded that they support him.
“There are also people he met after hours, asking them to support him,” the inspector suggested.
Axisa gesticulated more or less constantly during her arraignment, sometimes standing up and interrupting her, sometimes shaking her head, or sobbing loudly for a short time.
“In addition to having approached all these witnesses, he also offered a sum of money to the father of the victim”, continued the inspector, under the groans of disbelief of the defense and the protestations of innocence of the ‘accused.
Two victims were mentioned in the charges, the inspector said, one of whom suffers from mental health issues and is deemed vulnerable.
Busuttil accused Axisa of showing police only innocuous conversations on his mobile phone and of not showing them other conversations where he “tried to influence other witnesses”.
The inspector explained that before being questioned, the accused had already been made aware of the investigation through media reports.
As the defendant shook his head and mimed disbelief, defense attorney Arthur Azzopardi claimed his client spoke to witnesses in separate internal disciplinary proceedings, which were due to be held on Monday but are now on hold .
“He’s already suspended from his job,” Azzopardi said. “The version given by the victim is already kept and is written down, because the case was going to be brought before a disciplinary board. The defense had received a copy during the interrogation. Axisa had been asked about the content during his interrogation. So how can she change her version? »
Axisa drew up a list of its witnesses for the Monday session and this was given to the police, who also received the telephone numbers of the witnesses. “But the police didn’t contact them all, although they had 48 hours to do so. Why not?”
As her lawyer made these arguments, Axisa rocked back and forth, making pleading hand gestures at the magistrate.
“The prosecutor hasn’t even realized yet how little they understood [one victim’s] version of events, because in the period indicated she was not even working at Transport Malta.
“Why all these games? Because it’s Clint Axisa? asked the lawyer.
He admitted that the accused and the victim’s father communicated with one of the victims, explaining that they were neighbours. “What was he supposed to do?” Azzopardi submitted, only to be interrupted by the police inspector, who told the court that Axisa had “offered money to her father and stepfather”.
Axisa spoke again, shouting that “it started almost three weeks ago. There was nothing in my hands, there [the complaint and disciplinary proceedings] was just a rumor to the authority. I didn’t even have any paper.
Azzopardi continued. “The case law is clear, Axisa is not a public official,” he argued, saying that there were judgments in this regard made by other magistrates in similar cases.
Bail was initially not going to be granted, with the court telling Axisa that his numerous interruptions showed he was “obviously having difficulty controlling his urges”.
Azzopardi argued that the man had a clean criminal record, which was also disputed by the prosecution. He told the court that the man’s uncle and his wife were willing to step in as third-party guarantors, that the defendant had cooperated with the police, was currently suspended from duty and that his mobile phone was already on. evidence.
“If he’s not going to be released on bail today, when?” December?” Azzopardi said, drawing the court’s attention to the timing of the arraignment.
Marion Camilleri, civil party for victims with lawyer Franco Debono, said she had no objection to bail.
Lawyer Herman Mula, who is also defending Axisa, told the court that the prosecution “put the cart before the horse. He didn’t do anything yesterday,” but Busuttil insisted that Axisa had offered the father money.
The court announced that it would grant bail to Axisa. Hearing this, the accused began to cry, without tears, in shivering sobs. However, no tears were shed.
When asked where he would live, as he could not continue to reside next to the father of one of the plaintiffs, Axisa repeatedly told the court that in addition to his house in Fgura, he also owned properties in Tarxien, Zejtun and Valletta, etc. could be condemned to live in one of them.
A bail was granted against a bail of €10,000 and a personal bail of €30,000, Axisa being ordered to sign a bail book three times a week, to hand over his identity card. He was also prohibited from contacting the victims or their families.