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Facebook commenter saying Aquilina brothers should hang gets jail term

Facebook commenter saying Aquilina brothers should hang gets jail term
Mar 15 2022 Share

After a man took to Facebook to comment that Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina and his brother and president of Repubblika Robert should hang, he was given a seven month suspended jail term after admitting guilt. 

The 56-year-old from Gzira admitted to writing the comment beneath a post on the Facebook page of news page TVM, with the post reporting how Sandro Farrugia had been fined €400 and conditionally discharged for two years after admitting to writing on Facebook that the siblings deserved ‘a good beating once and for all.’ 

In response, the commenter in question wrote; ‘That’s why he was convicted. They deserve to be hung’, followed by a smiley teardrop emoji. 

Prosecuting police inspector Joseph Busuttil said he had received a report by the Aquilina brothers, which led to the arraignment of the commenter. The accused apologised for his actions during his police statement, with Busuttil saying that he still had to go ahead and persecute since his actions were against the law. 

He was charged with the misuse of electronic equipment to incite hatred last October. His defence lawyer Ezekiel Psaila said his client had been using colloquial language during the submissions of punishment. 

He added how the accused had not even read the news he was commenting about and made a mistake by making that comment. ‘He should not be turned into a sacrificial lamb. I want justice, not victims.’ However, lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia stressed that Galea’s language should not be trivialised. 

Following the guilty plea, the brothers expressed a wish to have their say. However, since there there was an admission, the inspector and the defence agreed there was no need. Robert Aquilina told the inspector that he would inform the Police Commissioner about this as he wanted to give the context. The inspector took offence and informed the magistrate he was being threatened. 

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit said this was basic education and said that while it was OK to criticise constructively, using such comments was not right. The commenter was bound not to harass the brothers for a year against a €500 fine in default. The seven month jail term is suspended for 18 months. 

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Maltese man travels to Polish border to help Ukrainian refugees

Maltese man travels to Polish border to help Ukrainian refugees
Mar 15 2022 Share

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions of Ukrainians as they all seek shelter and safety from the ongoing bombardment of their home country.

As countries impose sanctions and welcome in Ukrainian refugees into their land, one local Maltese man has travelled to the Polish-Ukrainian border to help with the humanitarian effort. 

Marc Edward Pace Portanier has joined a team of people renting vans and helping transport refugees from the Polish border crossing in Zusin to Lublin. 

With Poland taking in more than 1.4 million refugees since the start of the invasion in February, Marc told newsroom Times of Malta how they started to play a role in the effort. Starting out with just one car, Marc revealed how they helped with logistics and getting people who wished to travel to other parts of Poland. 

Transport systems such as buses and trains are currently free for fleeing Ukrainians in Poland. ‘We are helping out by doing the two-hour trip from the reception centre to the inner city and assisting them in planning out how they can arrive at their next destination’ said the Maltese. 

The effort is coordinated by the Change a Life Foundation, a child focused charity created by Marc’s two friends Paweł Dziubiński and Wojciech Sielicki. The group has so far raised funds to rent an eight-seater van and a 50 seater bus to increase trip capacity. 

The NGO is working to coordinate shelter and accommodation for refugees, as well as setting up a temporary home for unaccompanied minors. Marc highlighted the incredible effort people are putting into helping the Ukrainians. 

‘I knew what to expect but once you’re there and see the raw situation, you need to cut out emotions’ said Marc. ‘Everyone is doing their best to help but, sometimes, you have to make the hard decision and accept that you cannot help everyone who is there.’

‘It’s a good feeling to be part of something bigger’ said Marc as he continues his well-needed work to help the Ukrainians. 

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Malta Airport appeals to remove COVID restrictions as travel boosts

Malta Airport appeals to remove COVID restrictions as travel boosts
Mar 15 2022 Share

The Malta International Airport has appealed for the removal of remaining travel restrictions as passenger traffic into the MIA increased sevenfold over the same month in 2021. 

The traffic still remains 45.2% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels at 196,000. With traffic figures showing signs of demand-driven recovery in tourism, the MIA CEO Alan Borg has insisted the health authorities remove all remaining restrictions. 

Last February’s traffic saw a significant increase of 24% over January, with Borg saying that this double digit growth indicates that the easing of travel restrictions unleashed a demand for air travel. 

‘Further indicating that this increase was driven by demand rather than improved capacity, is the drop of 3% in February’s seat capacity compared to January’s’ he said. The seat load factor for February was just 5.1% lower than 2019 levels, standing at 70.7%. 

Borg said that traffic results for February clearly indicate that two years into the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic, people are ready to travel.

‘At the same time, our industry is facing a spate of new uncertainties and challenges, such as rising oil prices which re likely to push up fares, which are stemming from the war in Ukraine’ said Borg. The CEO highlighted how summer is just weeks away and thus the health authorities need to remove any remaining restrictions. 

This would also give industry stakeholders the confidence to invest in their business and ‘be optimistic for the future at this very delicate time.’ 

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Vaccine certificates could be extended to 12 to 17-year-olds

Vaccine certificates could be extended to 12 to 17-year-olds
Mar 15 2022 Share

Malta’s health authorities could be extending the vaccine certificate for children aged between 12 and 17 years who are not yet eligible for the booster shot. 

Current EU rules state that a certificate is valid for nine months from the date of the primary vaccine doses were administered. 

Malta’s rules however state that primary doses are valid for only three months, after which a booster dose must be taken. Minors are exempt from this rule as kids between 12 and 17 started inoculation at the end of June.

This means that certificates for those who were among the first to get the vaccine will soon expire. The certificate is required for travel purposes by many countries in the EU, including Malta. 

Times of Malta revealed that when contacted, the health authorities confirmed that a possible extension of the duration of the vaccine certificate validity for 12 to 17 year olds is being discussed at EU levels. 

The spokesperson said that a decision is expected in the coming days, but did not say if Malta will be offering those in this cohort a booster jab in the coming weeks. This comes following the recent authorisation of additional doses of the Pfizer jab for kids over 12. 

Infection numbers among children and young people have thus remained stable in recent weeks following a record-breaking spike in January. So far however, the booster is only offered to those aged over 18. 

As of yesterday, Malta has 1413 active cases, but only 49 are currently hospitalised, with 3 in the ITU. Meanwhile, 1,249,640 doses of the vaccine were administered, of which 346,666 are booster doses. 

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