The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

Hal Far migrant murder - Court rules enough evidence brought forward for bill of indictment

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 09:35 Last update: about 4 months ago

The compilation of evidence against the two soldiers accused of a drive-by murder in Hal Far continues today in front of Magistrate Ian Farrugia.

42-year-old Lassana Cisse, from the Ivory Coast, was murdered on 6 April 2019.

The two soldiers charged with his murder are Lorin Scicluna, 22 from Paola and Francesco Fenech, 21 from Marsascala.

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They are also accused of seriously injuring two other migrants – Ibrahim Bah from Guinea and Mohammed Jallow from Gambia. The two soldiers are suspended.

Lawyer Giannella de Marco is appearing for Francesco Fenech while Kris Busietta, Julian Farrugia and Franco Debono appeared for Lorin Scicluna. Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Trevor Micallef are prosecuting. Arthur Azzopardi appeared as parte civile for the victim’s family.

12.05pm: Court declared that there was enough prima facie evidence for a bill of indictment to be issued. Compilation continues on 3rd July 9.30am

11.46am: Officer St. John testified, and said that he along with a number of officers went on site of the murder. They were met with a man who was screaming in pain walking down through a field, saying that people shot at him and at his friend. The officers then called the ambulance, he said. Further down the road they found the other victim who was injured, Bah, and further down from him a man lying on the floor, with headphones in his ears, not moving. This third man had no signs of life, the officer said. He said that the police spoke to Bah, who told the police that he and Mohammed were in Birzebbuga and were heading back home to sleep. While walking home, a white car passed by them with some youths inside, who shot at them.

11.40am: Officer Farrugia later that night also went to see about CCTV cameras in the area. Her testimony has concluded.

11.35am: The court dealt with a request for the release of Cisse’ body, and the court ordered that a number of people be summoned to declare that the body is no longer required for investigations. Officer Therese Farrugia testified. At around 11pm on the night of the murder, they were informed about the incident. She went up to the site, and when they arrived, they saw someone yelling for them, jeans with blood. He fell on the floor and said that Maltese drove by and shot at him. Further down the road they noted a second person who was shot, and a third even further down who was not moving. She spoke to one of the inured migrants, Bah, who explained what happened.

11.25am: The police officer, Pierre Scerri, said that the car was inspected and then taken to the police garage. Scicluna showed them to a garage he also used, and also to his parents’ residence. The garage was rented by his father and used by them both. He said that Scicluna passed on to the police four guns, 3 in one box and a CZ 9mm in a separate box. Live ammunition was also found. This concluded his testimony.

11.19am: The officer, Pierre Scerri, described the route taken from the car until they lost its trail. The police also made use of a Transport Malta system, eliminating other similar cars to identify the car used exactly. The police officer noted that certain changes were made to the car after the incident took place, such as a sticker being stuck on the car and the mirror being fixed. “After we identified this car, we found the owner, who lived closeby to where the CCTV trail for the car on the night ended.” On 17 May, he and Inspector Arnaud followed an arrest warrant in Naxxar, where he was arrested during an AFM group march, the officer said. Scicluna was taken to the Safi Barracks where he showed the police the Toyota Starlet.

11.15am: The car had to stop at some point and still photos from CCTV cameras elsewhere were taken, which helped the police identify certain marks on the car, including one of the number plate lights being stronger than others, and that one of the mirrors was missing. The officer said that, in terms of CCTV footage, they collected from other potential routes as well to ensure that they did not miss anything or get the wrong car.

11.11am: A police officer, Pierre Scerri, testified, saying that on 6 April he was told to go to Birzebbuga due to the incident, arriving before midnight. He noted a cadaver with blood coming out from his head. The officer said that the police made some inquiried to find CCTV cameras in the area, and from what they saw, the small white car drove at speed towards Birzebbuga. He said that the police found the victim’s residence, and identified his employer. The officer spoke to the director and confirmed that he was employed with them. The first cctv cameras looked at were on the road of the incident, Triq-tal-Gebel, on the Birzebbuga side. The car, as seen on the camera, was a Toyota Starlet, the officer said.

10.45am: Sitting suspended for a few minutes

10.43am: After this incident, Green said he met the accused two weeks later, at the pastizzerija. Asked about the other incident regarding hit-and-run when the windscreen was broken, Green again reiterated he was not there. Green said that Fenech and Scicluna told him that they were passing through Hal Far and they ran someone over. Green said that no details were given to him. Cross-examined by Franco Debono, Green said that Fenech has a black Volkswagen Golf. Green said that Fenech cares a lot about his car, and knows this as it is always clean.

10:35am: Lorin’s car was near the bicycle, around 15 feet away, witness Jason Green said, He said that he personally went for the bicycle and the other two started walking towards the migrant. This whole incident occurred in the afternoon, Green said. Green said that Lorin’s numberplates had been stolen a few days prior and that on the day of this incident, they were on the windscreen and on the back window, stuck. They had not yet been installed. During this incident, the number plates were turned so that they could not be seen when they decided to get out of the car, Green said. The back plate was turned by Francesco Fenech, Green said, and the front one Green did. “Both of them told me to do that.” Green said the number plates were turned back round when getting back into the car. Asked for their reaction, as a group, once getting back in the car, he said ‘x'affarjiet dawn, they come to our country and do that.”

10.30am: Green said the migrant was not addressing them before they used the insulting word. Green said all three of them yelled the word. “The cyclist then followed them, yelling at us. He got off his bicycle as we stopped and threw stones at us” Green said. After the three of them yelled the bad word, and asked why they got out of the car instead of continued driving, Greensaid he does not know. Asked why they got out of the car, he said as the migrant kept coming behind them and Lorin decided to stop and find out why he was yelling at them. “All of us got out of the car. He began throwing stones at us and we hid behind the car. He started walking backwards throwing stones, and left his bicycle. We were telling him to stop throwing stones. I got hit by one. We tried to throw his bicycle into a field but the wall was high.”

10.12am: “All they told me was that they ran someone over,” witness Jason Green said, responding to Inspector Arnaud. Asked if he saw the car with the broken windscreen, Green said that he had seen a photo of it on Francesco Fenech’s phone. Green said that the photo was sent on their Whatsapp group chat. They had told him that the person they ran over was a migrant. When they told him about this, they used a normal tone of voice, Green testified, and he was not told whether they filed a report or anything like that. Green said that when he learnt of this case, that they were arrested, he deleted the group chat as wanted nothing to do with this. Asked what Lorin would say about migrants, Green said he did not like them as the country is filling up with them. As for Francesco, he used to say the same thing, that there are too many migrants, Green testified.

10.07am: They mainly contacted each other over phone and playstation, but would also message each other over Facebook, Green said. As hobbies, Green said Lorin likes cars and weapons. He said that Lorin told him he liked weapons. Turning back to Lorin’s Toyota, Green said that Lorin takes care of it. Green said he does not know the state of the car or if there was anything broken in it. Green remembered the windscreen incident. He said that he heard that it was broken, that Francesco Fenech had told him about it. Fenech told him this at least a month ago, Green testified. “He told me they ran someone over and the windscreen broke.” Green said that Francesco Fenech told him this when they were at the pastizzerija in Attard, where Lorin works part time. Lorin was there at the time, he confirmed. Green said that the two accused’ told him the windscreen was broken in Hal Far.

10.03am: Green said he is a delivery man. He identified both the accused. He said that he has known Lorin for three years, and Francesco Fenech for a few months. He said he got to know Lorin over the playstation, and got to know Francesco as Lorin introduced them. Asked about Lorin’s car, he confirmed that it is a white Toyota Starlet. Green, asked if he knew of any damage to the car or anything like that, he said that it is ‘normal’. Asked to elaborate, he said that he saw it last at least a month ago. He said he did not often go with Lorin, but when they would go hunting, he would come with him. They would normally head to Siggiewi and Hal Safi. They also played playstation together.

10.01am: Jason Green, the person mentioned by Arnaud earlier, took the stand. The court explained to the accused that, given his presence at one of the incidents, that involving when a bicycle belonging to a migrant was broken, certain legal steps might be taken against him and thus he has a right not to answer questions on that issue.

10am: Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi asked a few questions to inspector Arnaud. The inspector confirmed that the six bullet casings were not concentrated in the same area, but on the same road. His cross-examination has ended.

9.54am: Arnaud, asked about the migrants who were shot at, said that they were shot at from the driver’s side. He confirmed Lorin was driving. Arnaud said Lorin Scicluna is licenced as a target shooter, and after the incident he went, at least once, to the range. Last week Scicluna had said that Fenech had leaned over the driver’s side and shot out the window. Asked about the hit-and-run incident, where a migrant was run-over, the inspector confirmed that Scicluna was driving in that incident. He also confirmed that Scicluna was driving the day the bicycle incident happened.

9.49am: Giannella de Marco cross-examined the inspector, and asked him about the alleged car used in the murder, belonging to Lorin Scicluna. Arnaud confirmed that the car belonged to Scicluna. The inspector confirmed that Lorin had admitted to fixing certain things in the car, like the mirror, after the murder. He confirmed that the gun used was a semi-automatic pistol, an SBT. Scicluna admitted the gun was his, Arnaud told the court. The gun in question’s magazine takes around 15-17 rounds, but Scicluna had an extension which could add on a maximum of five more rounds. The bullet shells found were in the road, Arnaud said, adding that if there were any in the car at the time of the murder he cannot confirm as the case was found much later than the incident. He said that he saw six bullet casings.

9.48am: Inspector Arnaud presented transcripts of the interrogation to the court.

9.43am: Inspector Arnaud said Green, while interviewed by police, confirmed that he had seen the Toyota belonging to Scicluna with a broken windscreen, referring to the incident where a migrant was run over. Arnaud said that localisation data of the mobile phones stopped at Paola as the accused had then turned off their phones.

9.40am: Another person interviewed by the police was a certain Mr Green, a friend of both the accused, Inspector Arnaud said. Green said that they used to go hunting together but knew nothing of the murder. He said that he knew of the episode where they ran over a migrant, and the other episode regarding the bicycle. He said he was with them for the latter. Green said that they insulted the migrant in Arabic. Green said that the car stopped and they got out, and the migrant got off his bike and ran, throwing stones at the car. They then damaged the bicycle, Green had told the police.

9.37am: After the crime, Lorin and Francesco met the cousin, he said, and asked him how they can clean the barrel of the gun. Francesco told him that he was with Lorin when they killed the migrant, Arnaud said, but added that Francesco told his cousin that it was not him who fired the gun.

9.33am: Fenech denied ever shooting on cats, but said that they had fired on birds with Lorin’s air rifle. Francesco confirmed being with Lorin at the shop on the night of the murder, but denied being with him at the time of the murder. Asked why his phone was off at the time of the murder, he did not give an answer, the inspector said. The police later spoke to Fenech’s cousin. Arnaud said that the cousin began assuming who killed the migrant, as he knew Francesco was hanging around with a certain type of people. He said that he did not know Lorin at that time but knew that his cousin, Francesco, was hanging around with someone of not good character. He said that Francesco had told this cousin how they would go and annoy migrants.

9.30am: Inspector Keith Arnaud also confirmed that Lorin’s car is a Toyota Starlet. He said that they never knew who Cisse was. When asked what he thinks about black people and migrants, Fenech said that he does not hate them but is against the fact that they come to Malta. He was confronted with Lorin’s statement that they annoy migrants, he confirmed, but said would do it in a joking fashion and not threaten them. On the incident regarding a migrant whose bike was destroyed, he confirmed he was there, but said that the migrant kicked the car and they got out of the car to see what happened. He said that the migrant threw stones at them and they broke his bike. This contradicts Lorin’s statement last week, that they were trying to agitate the migrant.

9.27am: Inspector Keith Arnaud resumed his testimony from last week. He said that the police interrogated Francesco Fenech, after he spoke to his lawyer. On 18 May, Fenech’s first interrogation took place, the inspector said. “He corroborated the same story as Scicluna, in terms of how they got to know each other, working for the Army. He said that he was stationed with the infantry. He said that he would work-part time with his father at the boat yard. “He confirmed that he and Lorin were very good friends.”

 

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