UPDATED: The case of the two priests charged with abuse to be heard behind closed doors

The case against Dun Ġużepp Cini and Dun Ġużepp Sultana who are charged with sexual abuse will be heard behind closed doors. This was decided by Magistrate Bridgette Sultana this morning following a request by the defence.

The third hearing of the compilation of evidence saw various new faces at the court’s hall. The Magistrate was replaced, the priests now have a new defence lawyer, while the lawyer who is appearing for the alleged victim was also replaced.

Journalists were present at the Gozo Court hearing for less than fifteen minutes for the compilation against two priests – Dun Ġużeppi Cini and Dun Ġużeppi Sultana – who are accused with sexual abuse of minors. The court upheld the defence request and ordered that the case is held behind closed doors. The case is now being heard before Magistrate Bridgette Sultana who replaced Magistrate Monica Vella. It is not known why the latter was replaced.

The lawyer who from today is defending the two priests requested the hearing behind closed door, arguing that it is in both the victim’s interest and also for the process to be just and does not create a public scandal. He quoted various sections of the Human Rights Convention and even constitutional sentences.

The Prosecution did not object and Magistrate Sultana ordered that from now on the hearing will be behind closed doors to protect the right to fair hearing and full justice. She also ordered a ban on reporting of this case.

Today’s list of witnesses included police officers who investigated the case and the Xagħra Archpriest who had to present the records of the altar boys at the Xagħra church when the alleged abuse occurred and rosters of services and attendancies. The accused had denied the charges. Television Malta is informed that at the end of today’s hearing the two priests were taken again to the Kordin Correctional Facility where they are being held under custody.