The Malta Independent 22 June 2024, Saturday
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Updated: Terrorism charges filed against El Hiblu 3; defence contests bill of indictment

Thursday, 30 November 2023, 07:16 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Attorney General of Malta has issued a Bill of Indictment against Abdalla, Amara, and Kader, also known as the El Hiblu 3, the EH3 coalition said.

In a statement, the coalition said they have been wrongly charged with a long list of serious crimes which could carry life imprisonment.

“We are aggrieved and angry that the Attorney General has ignored the testimonies heard during the compilation of evidence over the last four and a half years, which demonstrate the indisputable innocence of the El Hiblu 3.

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Instead, the Attorney General holds the three young men responsible for the general tension on board during and after rescue by the vessel El HIBLU 1. The Attorney General retained all the initial, unfounded charges, including the unsubstantiated charge of terrorism.”

The coalition said that Abdalla, Amara, and Kader helped calm a highly charged situation on board the ship. “Let us not forget that, thanks to them, lives were saved. Thanks to them, people did not jump overboard. Thanks to them, no one was hurt. Thanks to them, any misunderstandings with the crew were addressed,” the statement said. 

“We are convinced that the El Hiblu 3 did the right thing: they helped diffuse a tense situation at sea and helped prevent an illegal pushback to Libya. Abdalla, Amara, and Kader are heroes, not criminals!

In charging the three young men, the Maltese authorities have missed an opportunity to rectify a grave injustice that has unfolded over nearly five years. Their actions should be celebrated, instead of being criminalised. With widespread support nationally and internationally, we will continue to stand in solidarity with Abdalla, Amara, and Kader until they are acquitted.”

The three, aged 15, 16 and 19 at the time of the incident in March 2019, were alleged to have hijacked the ship that rescued them at sea after fearing that they were being taken back to Libya.

The tanker was intercepted by the AFM patrol which took control of the vessel and brought it to Malta.

The three were detained and later charged the several offences, ranging from acts of terrorism to violence. They were held in police custody before being release on bail in November 2019. They deny the charges and say they were acting as translators.

Kader has been missing since last summer. If located, he will be brought to Malta to face the charges as the other two.

Lawyer Cedric Mifsud, who is one of the advocates appearing on behalf of the El Hiblu 3, told The Malta Independent that the defence lawyers have already filed their submissions contesting the bill of indictment.

Abdalla, Amara, and Kader have been indicted on terrorism charges, including the seizure of a ship.

Mifsud, speaking with this newsroom, said that the defence lawyers are contesting the Bill of Indictment under article 449 of the Criminal Code, which he said allows the defence to submit pleas if it feels the Bill of Indictment should be considered null and void.

"One of the major points we are contesting is the jurisdiction of the Maltese courts," he said.

"We are saying that any acts the Attorney General is accusing our clients of did not take place. But we are also saying that the very acts the AG is claiming took place, would have taken place outside of Malta's territorial waters, which is outside the 12 nautical miles outside of Malta. So without prejudice to my client's position, we are arguing that the Maltese courts don't have jurisdiction," Mifsud said.


 

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