Home Vehicle Accidents The institutions failed us ‘big time’, widow of man killed in road accident says

The institutions failed us ‘big time’, widow of man killed in road accident says

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Tista’ taqra bil-
Malti.

The wife of a man who was killed in a road accident accused institutions of failing her family following the acquittal of the motorist following a series of police mistakes.

Moira Vassallo sat down with Newsbook.com.mt to explain how the institutions have failed her family after a young driver was acquitted of killing her husband in a traffic accident in Tal-Pietà.

Between the time the interview was held and its publishing, Vassallo informed this newsroom that she was stopped in her tracks from filing the appeal after it transpired that the magisterial inquiry report was never exhibited in criminal proceedings against the suspect.

The case dates back to 22 August 2018 when Mark Vassallo, 53, was killed on his motorcycle as he was driving in Tal-Pietà on the way to Valletta. The inquiry found that as traffic was moving slowly on the inner lane, a young man driving a car behind Vassallo, had negligently hit him, thrusting him on to the vehicle in front of them.

Vassallo crashed to the ground and died five days later in hospital, after succumbing to several internal injuries.

The magisterial inquiry recommended that the driver is charged in court with involuntary homicide caused through negligent driving. However, the accused was acquitted because the police charge sheet had four mistakes.

A diligent motorcyclist

Mark was a family man, with many talents, he worked for many years at PBS as an editor, director and producer. He was behind famous productions such as Tista’ Tkun Int, and was alongside Peppi Azzopardi when Xarabank started.

Moira was 15 years old when she started dating Mark, who is five years older than her. They grew together, and had been together for a total of 35 years before his untimely death. During the interview, she recalled how despite having no background in masonry, he had built their family home.

“He was stubborn, but very determined. We had ups and downs, but we overcome our issues, and there was a time where we thought of separating, but we worked on the issues, and then the accident happened on 22 August 2018,” she recounted.

As a motorcyclist, Mark was very diligent and respected traffic regulations, with Moira reminiscing how she was recently reminded of an episode where she and her colleague had spotted him in traffic and she had noted that Mark instead of overtaking the car in front of him, chose to drive behind it.

On the day of the incident, Mark left the house before Moira and their son, as she recalled seeing him leaving the house. She left for work, driving her son to his workplace as he worked close by.

“Then we got the phone call from hospital, telling us to go there because he had sustained some grievous injuries,” Moira said, as she recalled that on her way there she thought that perhaps it was just a fracture.

However, once they got to the hospital the medical team informed her that her husband was in critical condition.

“He spent five days fighting for his life. We could not even say bye to him. We said our last good bye as he was leaving the house. He left home and never came back,” she said.

He was just an ID card number

As it happened, a magisterial inquiry was opened into the case, and the magistrate concluded that the driver should be arraigned for causing the involuntary death of Vassallo.

On 26 May, Lovin Malta reported that the driver had been acquitted. The family got to know through the media and had no idea the criminal proceedings had started let alone concluded.

“He was reduced to an ID card number,” Moira remarked, and added that had it not been for the media they would have never gotten to know that the driver was acquitted.

“I had been preparing myself mentally to appear in court and follow the proceedings, this was meant to be a closure,” Moira remarked, and observed that this was also taken away from her.

“A more humane approach is needed when dealing with victims,” she stressed, and added that after the acquittal no one called her up and apologised for what had happened.

“We had just started adjusting our lives to the new reality, and after three years, they took us back to the that time,” she said. However, already doubtful that justice can be done at the time the interview was held, it eventually emerged that the magisterial inquiry report was not exhibited during the criminal proceedings, and their legal counsel observed that no new evidence could be added to the proceedings in case of an appeal.

“Mark was a man who fought for justice, in his work, in his everyday life. After his death, there was still no justice with Mark. A family man went out to work and never returned home,” Moira said as the interview drew to a close.

Watch the full interview:

Video – Miguela Xuereb

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