The Malta Independent 19 October 2019, Saturday

Migrant murder: soldier would say migrants ‘wanted to rule the place’, former girlfriend testifies

Wednesday, 18 September 2019, 15:09 Last update: about 30 days ago

An ex-girlfriend of one of the two soldiers accused of the racially motivated murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane, has told a court how she had found it odd when, on a number of occasions, her then boyfriend would get worked up about migrants, saying they "wanted to rule the place." .

Soldiers Francesco Fenech, 21, and Lorin Scicluna, 22, are accused of killing Souleymane, 42, in a drive-by shooting in Birżebbuġa last April. They are also charged with the attempted murder of two migrants from Gambia whom they injured  in a drive-by shooting on the same night. 

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The pair deny the charges.

"He would say ' look at what he's wearing', stuff like that," said Scicluna's ex-girlfriend in court this morning, later adding that Scicluna feared migrants wanted to "rule the place".  His anger was directed towards black people, she said. 

Shortly before Scicluna was arrested, the witness says that she had spoken to him. He had admitted to her that he had been involved in a hit and run incident involved "a dark skinned man". The man had got back on his feet, she recalled Scicluna as saying.

The girl said she did not particularly like Fenech and would protest whenever told he would be joining them on nights out.

She burst into tears as lawyer Franco Debono, defence counsel to Scicluna, asked her to describe her former relationship with the accused.

"We had a good relationship. I loved his family and still do,"

Scicluna also wept.

The ex-girlfriend also told magistrate Ian Farrugia that Scicluna would always insist on driving when she was with him in the car. This point is expected to be seized upon by his defence as evidence that he did not pull the trigger.

A request for bail was made by both accused men's defence. "Personal liberty is the rule not the exception. We didn't rush to file a bail application but now, witnesses have been heard and evidence gathered," Debono said.  Lawyer Nadia Attard from the Office of the Attorney General objected to the request, pointing to the public outcry caused by the case, the fact that there were still witnesses to testify and the fact that the men were facing potential life sentences as reasons to deny bail.

After briefly retiring to deliberate, the court denied bail.

Inspector Keith Arnaud is prosecuting.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia are defence counsel to Lorin Scicluna.

Lawyers Giannella DeMarco and Stephen Tonna Lowell are defence counsel to Francesco Fenech,

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi is parte civile.

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