Eman Cross cleared of threat charges after mother and her partner refuse to testify

Magistrate Claire Stafre Zammit says such u-turns are a waste of resources and lead to unjustified criticism of the courts

Far-right activist Eman Cross (Photo: Facebook)
Far-right activist Eman Cross (Photo: Facebook)

Eman Cross, the far-right activist who had been charged with terrorizing his mother and threatening to kill her partner during a domestic argument, has been cleared of the threat-related charges due to lack of evidence, after his alleged victims elected not to testify.

The compilation of evidence against Cross, 20, continued before Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit this morning.
Cross had been arrested earlier this month and charged with threatening his mother and her partner, as well as making threats and insults in excess of the limits of provocation.

He had also been accused of possessing a firearm without a permit and of having committed these offences whilst already under a probation order. 

Cross, who has an interest in martial arts, had been placed under a two-year probation order in February after being convicted of having injured a neighbour, whom he kicked in the groin for complaining about the loud music Cross had been playing.

During his arraignment, Cross had pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and the breach of probation and had been placed under a treatment order for alcohol abuse. The defence had contested the charges relating to the alleged threats.

When the case was called this morning, parte civile lawyer Herman Mula informed the court that the accused’s mother did not wish to testify in the proceedings. The issue was originally with the mother’s partner, he said. “She has no problem with him.”

“Why did she report him then?” shot back Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit.

Mula replied that they had found live ammunition and had feared that the situation would escalate if Cross had a firearm.

“So they’re not afraid now?” probed the magistrate.

“The police searched the flat and didn’t find any firearms,” Mula replied, adding that the mother’s partner was willing to testify but should be administered a caution beforehand.

“I didn’t force anyone not to come here and testify,” said the magistrate, saying that these sudden changes of heart were a waste of resources and led to unjustified criticism of the courts.

Inspector Sherona Buhagiar pointed out that it was always the police and the courts who get the blame when it is members of the public who make reports and then withdraw them after getting cold feet.

Lawyer Charles Mercieca, appearing for the defendant, said it was a matter of “damage control”.

“There should be other options. I am not the legislator,” protested the magistrate. “There should be a study into this phenomenon.”

Inspector Buhagiar testified how on 8 August, the accused’s mother had filed a report with the police’s Domestic Violence Unit about her son, Eman Alexander Cross, to say she had witnessed him making threats against her partner.

The woman had told police that she had a row with her partner at her home. “Eman had been drunk at the time and had tried to intervene,” said the inspector. The mother had managed to shepherd the accused into a bedroom, while her partner left the property.

“Eman said he was going after him. ‘Sejjer ghalih,’ he said, but the woman managed to restrain him. Moments later, Cross pulled out a bag containing live ammunition, shouting “I’ll show him who the grandson of Leli l-Parapett is!” The inspector explained that the Leli l-Parapett he referred to had been convicted of murder many years ago.

The mother had explained that she decided to call the police when, the next day, Cross had once proclaimed that his grandfather had murdered someone and that he wanted to follow in his footsteps, telling her “I’ll shoot him twice. (Zewg tiri ntih),” 

The inspector added that the accused had taken his mother’s safe and installed it in his bedroom, also changing the access code. The woman told the police that she feared that he might have had a firearm stored there. 

When the police arrived at Cross’ home in Hamrun and searched the property, they found 14 live rounds in the safe, but no firearm was found.

Asked about the ammunition, Cross told the police that he had found them in a field and picked them up. He gave no answer to questions about the alleged threats.

Cross’ mother was called to the witness stand, and informed the court that she was choosing not to testify.

“It was an argument, I didn’t want it to get to this stage,” said the woman, confirming that she had filed the report because she had felt intimidated.

The Magistrate asked her why she had changed her mind and now wished to withdraw proceedings. “I didn’t want it to get to here,” repeated the woman.

“But we did tell you at the beginning that it will go to court,” said the inspector. The magistrate agreed, telling the woman that “everyone knows what happens when you file a report.”

Her son didn’t live with her anymore, said the witness. “I want him to accept the help being offered, but I don’t fear him.” 

Mula spoke up, informing the court that the parties had discussed the case between themselves and had no objection to keeping the measures already imposed by the court, in place.

Mercieca amplified. “These are proceedings where the judicial process is working, as it is a mean to deliver not only punishment but rehabilitative justice."

The court replied that it was “glad to see a family reunited, but only if the underlying problem is addressed.” It noted that the accused’s probation officer had not yet testified.

The mother’s partner then took the stand, also declining to testify. “I wasn’t there and I don’t know anything. I was at work at the time,” he said.

The inspector informed the court that the man was the prosecution’s last witness. 

The court, after hearing the alleged victims express their wish to withdraw proceedings and not testify against the accused, and as there were no other witnesses who could shed any light on what happened, declared that there was insufficient prima facie evidence against the accused with regards the first three charges and discharged him.

“A discharge does not equate to acquittal,” pointed out the magistrate, noting that Cross had previously pleaded guilty to the remaining two charges.

The case was adjourned till September for the accused’s probation officer to testify.