The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

Updated: Man involved in Mellieha manhunt charged with attempted murder, denied bail

Saturday, 4 December 2021, 16:01 Last update: about 3 months ago

A man who was arrested after a six-hour manhunt in Mellieha on Thursday was charged with attempted murder on Saturday afternoon.

The man, Aidan Bartolo, 24, of Ghaxaq, was also charged with the attempt to cause serious injury, causing injury to police officers, driving dangerously, not obeying police orders, and of being a recidivist.

He pleaded not guilty. A request for bail was turned down by the courts, with Magistrate Lara Lanfranco saying that the court was not convinced that the accused will follow the conditions it would impose on him.

The prosecution told the court that on Thursday, the police followed the accused in a car towards Mellieha. At one point the accused ditched the car and ran off into the Mizieb woodland. The police mounted a search for the man, and found him hiding in the bushes after six hours.

The defence argued that Bartolo is being charged with false accusations. The accusation is “disproportionate” as the police officers suffered minor injuries and the accused wanted to escape from the officers, not kill them.

The defence also informed the court that Bartolo was hit in the leg with a firearm three times, but it was explained to the court that the same shot had hit him in three places.

The prosecution sustained that the accused drove the car in the direction of the officers and they would have been hit if they had not stepped aside. The prosecution argued that the police are still to conclude their investigations and that 16 civilians need to testify.

Magistrate Lanfranco denied bail.

The accused had been sent to prison in 2017 after admitting to being in possession of 31 sachets of cocaine. In 2020 he was also jailed after being found guilty of theft.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb are appearing for the accused.

Bartolo was arrested after a six-hour manhunt in the Mizieb woodland.

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