The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

Paulina Dembska was not killed because of her gender, police say; main suspect charged tonight

Thursday, 13 January 2022, 16:09 Last update: about 10 days ago

Paulina Dembska’s murder was not pre-meditated and she was not targeted because of who she was or because of her gender, a police spokesperson said in a crime conference preceding the arraignment of the main suspect in the case on Thursday.

20-year-old Abner Aquilina will be arraigned in court at around 6:15pm today before Magistrate Ian Farrugia.

He will be charged with the rape and murder of Polish national Paulina Dembska, who was found dead on the morning of 2 January at Independence Gardens in Sliema.

Aquilina was released from Mount Carmel Hospital, where he was admitted too soon after his arrest, yesterday which allowed his police interrogation to be resumed.

Police chief spokesperson Brandon Pisani told journalists in a crime conference that the murder took place at around 5:15am.  Dembska’s body was discovered around an hour later, at around the same time when Aquilina was arrested.

Investigations have also shown that this case was not pre-meditated, and that there was no specific target, and neither was there any target on a particular sex, nor was the victim a specific target,” Pisani said.

Asked how this could be the case when the main suspect is being charged with rape as well as murder, Pisani said that it was a case which happened “at random” and that the police’s investigations resulted that there was no particular gender targeted in the attack.

Asked about the police’s inquiries with religious evangelical group River of Love – a service of whom Aquilina was said to have attended hours before the murder – Pisani merely said that they had spoken to them, as with others, in order to gain as much information on the case as possible.

Pisani said that police investigations into sexual harassment allegations against Aquilina which emerged on social media after the murder are still ongoing, and that the release of Dembska’s body to her family is up to the inquiring magistrate.

The victim’s family has also received assistance from the police’s Victim Support Unit.

Pisani noted that all murders which happened in the country since 2018 had been solved, showing the police’s positive track record in this regard.

Anthony Vella and Darlene Grima from the Attorney General’s office will be leading the prosecution and they will be assisted by Inspectors Wayne Camilleri, Shawn Pawney, and Jonathan Ransley.


Deputy Commissioner Ramon Mercieca meanwhile explained that the police have increased its presence in the Sliema area as it aims to put the minds of those who live or frequent there at rest.

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