The Malta Independent 17 September 2019, Tuesday

Updated: Soldiers charged with drive-by shooting of migrant in Hal Far, plead not guilty

Rebekah Cilia Sunday, 19 May 2019, 10:42 Last update: about 5 months ago

Two AFM soldiers were arraigned on Sunday and pleaded not guilty to the racially-motivated murder of a migrant in Hal Far and the attempted murder of two others on the 6 April.

Lorin Scicluna, 22, from Paola, and Francesco Fenech, 21, from Marsascala, were charged over the drive-by shooting that left Ivorian Lassana Cisse Souleymane dead. Two other men were shot in the incident.

The men, who arrived in court at around 11.30am, were charged with having killed Souleymane, and to having seriously injured Ibrahim Bah, from Guinea, and Mohammed Jallow, from Gambia.

They were further charged with having used a weapon in the commissioning of a crime and firing a weapon in public.

The men were also accused of having, on 1 February 2019, tried to kill May Malimi, a Chadian migrant, in the same location. The crime, according to the charge sheet, was also racially motivated.

Scicluna and Fenech were also accused of being in possession of racist material, killing a number of cats and birds, being in possession of an unlicensed air gun, dangerous driving and driving a car that bore no number plates.

Scicluna alone was charged with breaching the conditions of a conditional discharge. 

Scicluna looked visibly emotional whilst his mother sat behind him sobbing uncontrollably. Fenech, on the other hand, seemed more composed and displayed no emotion, whilst his sister shed a few tears. 

Fenech was dressed casually in a tracksuit, whilst Scicluna wore a suit. The courtroom was entirely packed with several police officers, relatives of the accused and members of the press.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli, warned the men that the murder charge can carry a life sentence.

Lawyer Giannella de Marco appeared for Francesco Fenech, while Lorin Scicluna was assisted by lawyer Julian Farrugia. The arrests were not contested. 

No requests for bail were made and the men were held under preventive custody.

Lassana Cisse, a 42-year-old from Ivory Coast, was brutally killed as he was walking along a road between Birzebbuga and the Hal Far Open Centre, where he would visit friends to see that they were adjusting to life in Malta. Two other men  were also shot, but have since recovered.

One of the soldiers, Fenech, was arrested on Friday evening and was thoroughly questioned about the incident.  Scicluna was arrested on Saturday.

Sources said on Saturday that Fenech had confessed throughout the night to being involved in both this incident and to the February hit-and-run.

He confessed however that it was not him who discharged the firearms at Cisse and the two other migrants, pointing the police in the direction of a second soldier, with police subsequently arresting this second soldier on Saturday, sources said.

 

It is believed to be the first racially-motivated murder in Malta, with sources close to the investigation saying that one of the accused had admitted to targeting the migrants “just because they were black".

 

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