The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

Updated: Abner Aquilina pleads not guilty to rape and murder of Paulina Dembska

Thursday, 13 January 2022, 18:21 Last update: about 10 days ago

Abner Aquilina has pleaded not guilty to the rape and murder of Paulina Dembska. 

He was arraigned before Magistrate Ian Farrugia.

The 20-year-old gave journalists the middle finger as he was being escorted into the law courts.

Earlier today, the police said Dembska’s murder was not pre-meditated and she was not targeted because of who she was or because of her gender.

She was killed on 2 January at Independence Gardens in Sliema.


Follow our live blog below:

18:43 The family walk out of the courtroom.

18:42 The court sends the acts to the registrar to be assigned to another magistrate according to law. The sitting is over.

18:42 The court says it finds nothing incorrect with the defence's submission and upholds the request. The defence says it has nothing more to add at this stage.

18:41 The court dictates a recommendation to the CCF director that the necessary assessments be carried out on the accused without delay. Defence lawyer Mario Mifsud says the recommendation is being requested in the best interests of the accused and society at large. The prosecution and parte civile do not object to the request.

18:36 The defence lawyers Mario Mifsud and Christian Camilleri explain that for the past few days the accused was being held at Mount Carmel Hospital.

18:34 Prosecutor Anthony Vella suggests that the man be examined by the prison doctor and the decision on whether or not to hold him there or Mount Carmel be taken then. The prerogative is that of the prison director, he points out.

18:34 Mifsud does not request bail but asks the court to recommend that Aquilina be held at Mount Carmel instead of Corradino prison.

18:34 The magistrate notes the absolute silence in the courtroom.

18:33 Defence lawyer Mario Mifsud informs the court that his client pleads not guilty.

18:33 Abner Aquilina is asked his details by the registrar. He says he works as a clerk.

18:32 The court declares the arrest valid.

18:32 The accused’s statements were all audio-visual and assisted by his lawyer, says the inspector.

18:32 Police went to ask the man questions and from his answers they understood that he had committed the murder. The interrogation had to be suspended because of a referral by doctors to Mount Carmel Hospital. Aquilina was later released and interrogated further.

18:30 Inspector Ransley tells the court that the police had been informed of a body in Sliema. They were also informed that a man was admitted to Floriana clinic for scratches and other slight injuries.

18:30 The magistrate asks the prosecution what led to the man's arrest.

18:30 The magistrate asks the prosecution what led to the man's arrest.

18:30 Defence lawyer Mario Mifsud does not contest the validity of the arrest.

18:29 Aquilina is also charged with breaching the public peace in Balluta church at 6am. Aquilina is also accused of being a recidivist in view of past convictions.

18:29 The inspector accuses Abner, 20, from Żejtun with murdering Paulina Dembska, holding her against her will, forcing her to perform acts against her modesty, raping her vaginally, anally and orally. The crime happened on 2 January.

18:26 The magistrate calls Inspector Ransley to the stand to confirm the charges on oath.

18:26 The court was opened after hours with an urgent application filed by the prosecution.

18:26 Magistrate Ian Farrugia walks in and tells the accused to take his hands out of his pockets. “What?” replies the accused. The magistrate repeats the order and he complies.

18:25 The accused turns to speak to his mother.

18:25 Parte civile lawyer Stefano Filletti has just walked in.

18:24 Inspector Christina Delia is accompanying a woman with a mournful expression, who we are told is Aquilina’s mother.

18:23 Deputy AG Philip Galea Farrugia, lawyer Anthony Vella from the AG, Superintendent Keith Arnaud, Inspectors Shawn Pawney, Wayne Camilleri and Jonathan Ransley for the prosecution are also inside the courtroom.

18:22 The accused is wearing a blue jacket with what looks like a white t-shirt draped around his neck. His lawyer Mario Mifsud sits next to him in the dock discussing something as we wait for the magistrate to emerge from chambers.


Photo: Giuseppe Attard

  • don't miss