The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Family argument leaves one in police custody and the other critically injured

Monday, 24 June 2019, 15:59 Last update: about 27 days ago

A family argument between two brothers on Saturday evening left one of them critically injured and the other man in police custody, a court has heard.

33 year-old Matthew Vassallo from Cospicua was arraigned in court on Monday afternoon, 

accused of the attempted murder of his brother, grievously injuring him, carrying a weapon at the time of the incident and breaching bail.

Vassallo, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, told the magistrate that he had not intended to injure his brother.

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Defence lawyer Benjamin Valenzia, assisting the accused, contested the validity of the arrest, claiming that there was no premeditation and that the injuries had occurred when the alleged victim had fallen on his brother after having too much to drink.

He had been carrying a glass at the time and the glass had smashed under the force of the fall, causing sharp pieces of glass to pierce his brother's stomach, said the lawyer.

The account was apparently corroborated by the accused's own brother and other relatives who had witnessed the incident, said the defence lawyer, pointing out that a police report had been filed anonymously.

Prosecuting Inspector Eman Hayman told the court that the anonymous caller who had phoned the Cospicua police station at 9:22 pm on Saturday had reported a chaotic scene on a particular Senglea street, with people screaming and shouting.

Police officers arriving at the scene had come across the man with a large wound in his abdomen, bleeding heavily. That man was enraged and vowed to seek revenge against his brother, the accused, he said.

The victim then lost consciousness was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Relatives of the two brothers had later told police that the argument had been allegedly triggered by the victim playing roughly with the accused's young son.

Having heard submissions on the issue of the validity of the arrest, magistrate Gabriella Vella, confirmed it to be valid.

Inspector Hayman objected to the defence's request for bail, arguing that there was "no doubt" as had been implied by the defence.

Moreover, the accused had an untrustworthy character and attempts to tamper with evidence had allegedly already been made, Inspector Hayman continued.

Defence lawyer Valenzia retorted that the presumption of innocence was even stronger given the doubts as to the voluntary nature of the incident.

The court denied bail in view of the nature of the offences and the fact that civilian witnesses, including the victim and other relatives, were still to testify.

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