The Malta Independent 22 October 2018, Monday

Birkirkara murder: Accused dragged injured victim aside to wash blood stains, court hears

Thursday, 14 December 2017, 17:31 Last update: about 11 months ago

A court today heard how the probable cause of death in the murder of a Libyan national on 25 November was a deep stab wound in the upper thigh, which had punctured a major artery.

The compilation of evidence against Siraj S.B. Shalgum, 36, and Husain Saleh Belgasem Shalgum, 31, started today. The Libyan brothers are facing charges over the murder of Fouzi Fari Etwaish, 40. The man was stabbed inside the home of the accused in Birkirkara.


Inspector James Grech said officers at the Birkirkara station had been told on the day that a peson had tumbled down the stairs inside a nearby house.

At the same time a male caller with an Arab accent had called for an ambulance. The nurse who took the call later told the police that she could not understand the caller clearly but there had been a mention of knife wounds.

Upon arriving at the house officers found blood splatters near the front door and on the stairway and kitchen. Outside the house there was a considerable amount of bloody soapy water, which indicated that someone had tried to wash out traces of blood before the police arrived.

The co-accused told officers that they had not argued with the victim. However, neighbours said they had been woken up at around 1:30am by screams and bangs coming from the Libyans’ house.

One woman said she had heard shouting followed by a heavy thud.

During questioning the elder brother told police that the victim had been sharing the house for a few weeks. He said Etwaish had gone out with his brother a few hours before the incident.

The younger brother said he and the victim had gone to Hamrun for a couple of beers and insisted that the victim had fallen down the stairs later, during the night.

The man said that, shortly before he fell, the victim had been chopping vegetables to prepare a meal, adding that Etwaish was drunk and hungry.

A third party told police he had dropped the younger brother and the victim off in Birkirkara ant they were both drunk.

Husain later admitted that an argument had broken out because he had bought a takeaway meal for himself but not for Etwaish.

The older brother was questioned about a suspected knife wound on his shoulder but said he had injured himself on the stairway railing while helping the injured victim after he had fallen.

Both men said they had rushed to help Etwaish.

But inspector Grech told the court that CCTV footage showed that more than an hour and a half had passed between the shouting and the arrival of help. The footage also showed the victim fall out of the front door, slam into the pavement and hit his face against a parked car.

The footage also showed the victim being dragged along the pavement by the accused to make way for them while they washed away the blood.

During this time the victim was losing blood but was still breathing.

Forensic experts later confirmed that the victim had suffered five superficial wounds on his arm and a lethal wound in the groin.

An item of clothing found by investigators inside a rubbish bin in the accused’s home had holes compatible to the wounds found on the victim’s arm.

The man was bara chested when the ambulance arrived. He died shortly after.

The case continues after Christmas.

The court will then consider a request for bail.

Inspectors James Grech and Roderick Spiteri are prosecuting. Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are appearing for the accused.


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