The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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Diamonds international heist: Jailed accomplice refuses to testify against Muka brothers

Thursday, 1 June 2023, 15:12 Last update: about 2 years ago

A man already serving four years in jail after being found guilty of complicity in the 2017 armed robbery of Diamonds International in Tigné has had 2 months added to his sentence, and fined €3,000, after he refused to testify against his accomplices.

Artan Coku, 31, from Albania, had been jailed in February 2022 after admitting to having helped with the preparation and logistics of the hold-up, which was later carried out, allegedly by Daniel Muka, his brother Begtash and Ramazan Hysa who are still facing related charges. Coku had told the police that the stolen jewellery was going to be sent to Bari, in Italy and eventually sold in Albania.

Two robbers wearing masks and wigs, reportedly wielding a shotgun, pistol, batons and axes, had entered the outlet on 5 October 2017. Two men and a woman, the shop’s manager, a salesman and a shop assistant, had been inside at the time.  

The robbers had smashed a number of windows and display cases before stealing some €333,000 worth of items. Daniel Muka had been arraigned first, with Coku being charged some weeks later. Begtash Muka was later also arraigned after DNA evidence tied him to the scene.

Besides the four-year prison sentence, the Court had also ordered Coku to pay a third of the court’s costs, amounting to over €14,500. The cost of repairs to the shop targeted by the gang was in excess of €65,000.

Coku had been supposed to testify against the brothers, each of whom are undergoing separate criminal proceedings in relation to the heist, but when he took the stand, he had refused to give evidence, his lawyer citing fears for the witness’ safety and that of his family. 

Magistrate Joseph Gatt ruled that this argument did not provide a defence to the Albanian, because it was not one of the circumstances contemplated by the law for a witness to be exempted from testifying.

Upholding Coku’s argument would mean that anyone could avoid having to testify by citing this fear, said the magistrate, noting that no evidence had been before the court to show that the witness had received any threats.

The court sentenced Coku to an additional 2 months in prison, and imposed a €3,000 fine.

Superintendent James Grech prosecuted.

 

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