The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Accused Admits hitting two men with broken bottle

Malta Independent Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 14 years ago

A man accused of causing the death of a Gozitan man and attempting to seriously injure another man during a fight in Paceville five years ago admitted yesterday hitting the two men with a broken bottle, saying that he did not know what he was doing after having been punched in the face by someone in a bar.

Anthony Schembri, 42, from Hamrun, is pleading not guilty to seriously injuring Stephen (Steve) Sam Portelli, which was followed by his death, and to seriously injuring Carm Grech during a fight in Paceville in 2001.

Despite several attempts to save his life by surgical intervention, 27-year-old Mr Portelli died on 9 November 2001 following the injuries he sustained during an incident in Paceville on the night of 27 to 28 October that year.

Mr Schembri took the witness stand to explain that he went to Paceville with his friends on the day in question. He said that they arrived between 9.30pm and 10pm.

“We were drinking at the bar when suddenly a group of youths came into the bar and stayed near us. They bought us a drink and at one point I went to the toilet. When I came out, I saw a bunch of people fighting. There was someone on the ground. I looked for my relatives and could not see them and when I went closer to see if anyone was involved in the fight, someone turned and punched me.”

He continued: “Bouncers threw me out of the bar. My eye was hurting and I was asking around to see who punched me. All of a sudden Carm Grech (the man who survived the attack) came up to me and suggested that we all go for a drink, but someone else who was standing behind him tried to assault me. I saw a bottle on the ground, broke it and hit them with it. Then a policeman came and arrested me. At the time I had no idea what had happened and where I was,” he explained.

Mr Schembri said that, following the incident, he suffered from an infection in both eyes and also from depression. He said he had lost patches of his hair due to tension.

“I was drunk and felt dizzy after that punch. I waved my arms with the

bottle in my hand. I’m sorry for what happened,” he said.

Under cross-examination, Mr Schembri said he did not know who had punched him inside the bar. “I did not want to pay them back. It wasn’t the first time that I’d been involved in a fight. He was insulting me in English and I don’t understand English. I was scared of them. I’m sorry that someone died,” he said.

Earlier in yesterday’s sitting, Police Inspector Angelo Caruana said Mr Schembri had denied hitting the two men with a broken bottle and in his statement to the police had said he did not remember much of what happened that evening.

The trial by jury continued with the prosecution and the defence addressing the jurors. The defence is saying that the accused was acting in self-defence and had been provoked.

The prosecution is claiming that Mr Schembri had the specific intention of injuring the two men because of the trouble they caused inside the bar when he was punched.

Mr Schembri faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in jail for seriously injuring Mr Portelli, followed by his death and a further maximum of five years for attempting to seriously injure Mr Grech.

The trial continues today.

Senior Counsel to the Republic Mark Said prosecuted. Dr Franco Debono and Dr Jose Herrera appeared for the defence and Dr Giannella Caruana Curran and Dr Manwel Mallia appeared parte civile for the alleged victims.

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