The Malta Independent 22 September 2019, Sunday

Two soldiers accused of murdering migrant suspended from AFM -Minister Farrugia

Albert Galea Monday, 20 May 2019, 11:42 Last update: about 5 months ago

Francesco Fenech and Lorin Scicluna, the two soldiers accused of the murder of Ivorian migrant Lassana Cisse in Hal Far and of three attempted murders, have been suspended by the Armed Forces of Malta, a suspension which was confirmed by President George Vella yesterday, Home Affairs and National Security Minister Michael Farrugia said on Monday.

Asked by The Malta Independent whether the two soldiers had been suspended from the army, Farrugia answered that they had been suspended immediately and that he himself had signed off on the suspension following a recommendation on the part of the AFM itself. 

Farrugia said that the President had confirmed the suspension yesterday.

Scicluna and Fenech were charged in court on Sunday with the murder of Ivorian Lassana Cisse and the attempted murder of three others.  The charge sheet indicated that the crime was racially motivated.  Both soldiers pleaded not guilty.

Scicluna was also charged with breaching bail conditions, indicating that he had committed a crime before being accused of this one.

Asked to explain the situation, Farrugia said that when Fenech and Scicluna applied to join the army as recruits, their police conduct and criminal record were both clean.  It was after they had joined the army that one of them – Scicluna – had been accused of and found guilty of a crime, Farrugia said.

While declining to elaborate on the nature of the crime, Farrugia noted that the sentence given by the courts was that of a conditional discharge, denoting that it was not one of a certain gravity or extent.

He said that army procedure denotes that in cases where the crime is a minor one – there are crimes which would equate to an immediate sacking such as those involving drugs – the army hands out a warning.  If the person in question then commits a second crime within a certain period of time, they are immediately sacked, Farrugia said.

The minister said that “like any other person in the army”, Scicluna was given a warning and that this was recorded as per army procedure.  He said that he himself had verified that the warning had been given and recorded and that full army procedure had been followed in the handling of the case.

Asked whether there had been any resignations from the AFM following this case, Farrugia said that there had been none.

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