Updated | Police solidarity march ‘not linked to any individual case’, unions insist

Both police unions have said that the solidarity march had nothing to do with the case of police officer Simon Schembri

Lawyers for Liam Debono have argued that the president's presence at the march could constitute a breach of Debono's right to a fair trial
Lawyers for Liam Debono have argued that the president's presence at the march could constitute a breach of Debono's right to a fair trial

Updated at 6.40pm with lawyers' reaction

Malta’s two police unions insisted on Thursday that a solidarity march organised two weeks after police officer Simon Schembri was mowed down by an underage driver, that nothing to do with incident.

In a joint statement, the Police Officers Union (POU) and the Malta Police Association insisted that the march was one of solidarity with all of Malta’s policemen.

The statement comes days after lawyers for Liam Debono – the underage driver charged with Schembri’s attempted murder – claimed that the President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca’s presence at the march could constitute a breach of his right to a fair trail.

The unions pointed out that a press release sent out on the eve of the march made no reference to Schembri or his case.

On Wednesday, Debono’s lawyers filed a judicial protest in which they claim that the President’s participation in the solidarity march, because of the moral authority, which the office she occupies has, can easily create “irredeemable prejudice” towards the accused, since it could shape public opinion.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud, who is presiding over the case, also claimed that he too would have marched “shoulder to shoulder with the President” had he not been prohibited by ethics, potentially opening up the possibility that the defence may also ask for his recusal.

Lawyers to Debono react

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia, who are representing Liam Debono in court proceedings, it was "very clear to all" that the protest was linked to their client's case.

"While one appreciates and acknowledges the police’s right to organise a protest, people’s intelligence should also be respected... the protest took place a mere four days after the Liam Debono case and the two events are so intimately and intrinsically connected that it is very clear that no protest would have taken place had the incident not occured," the lawyers said, in a short statement reacting to the police unions' declaration.

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