Court lacks authority to decide couple's request to marry

A magistrate ruled today that he does not have the competence to decide upon the request of a French couple who wish to get married while they are held in custody pending extradition proceedings.

Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna said that although there was no doubt that the couple had the right to get married, he agreed with the Attorney Generals' Office that he did not have the competence to decide upon the request.

The couple, 49-year-old, Alain Schmitt, who is leader of a French sect, and his 47-year-old fiancé, Laurence Liegeois are contesting the request by French authorities for their extradition.

Their lawyer, Emmy Bezzina said today that if Mr Schmitt is sent back to France it would be a definite 'death sentence' for him due to the type 1 diabetes he suffered from.

He said that his client had already spent two months in prison under preventative arrest in France and Maltese prisons were a “five star hotel” compared to French prisons.

At this point, Magistrate Apap Bologna said that this was a European country and prisons in France could not be that bad.

Dr Donnatella Frendo Dimech, from the AG's office, said that the couple had been convicted and this was the only issue before the court. The case continues.