Protection of journalists urged by the courts

'It is useless to take action after someone is killed'

A Magistrates’ Court has issued a protection order in favour of a sports journalist and banned the offender from all sports venues around the islands.

He also called upon authorities to ensure that journalists are protected before it is too late.

During criminal proceedings against 46-year old Francis Muscat, from Pembroke, who stands charged with violently assaulting sports journalist Antvin Monseigneur last September in the vicinity of the Luxol Grounds in St Andrews, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud declared “it is futile to have national days of mourning with flags flown at half-mast after someone is killed.”

Journalists were one of the main pillars of a democracy and should be protected without delay, he said.

Criminal steps were taken against the alleged aggressor following an incident during which he allegedly inflicted grievous injuries upon Mr Monseigneur, harassing and offending him, while causing him to fear violence.

Magistrate Mifsud was informed by the prosecution that, only some days earlier, the apparently unrepentant man was seen taking photos of the journalist while the latter sat inside the commentators’ box during a match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

Upon hearing this, the court issued a one-year protection order, with a possibility for renewal upon termination of the proceedings.

The court also prohibited the accused from making any form of contact with or in any manner harassing the journalist and from laying a foot in any stadium or other sport venue in Malta or Gozo.

Magistrate Mifsud warned that accused that if he were to breach any of these conditions, he could end up facing a maximum fine of €2,329 or a maximum jail term of six months or both.

Inspector Nikolai Sant prosecuted. Lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima was defence counsel. Lawyer Vince Micallef appeared parte civile.