The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Three men denied bail after being charged in connection with Ħamrun brawl

Friday, 9 February 2024, 16:06 Last update: about 22 days ago

Three men have been remanded in custody in connection with a brawl that took place outside the Ħamrun police station on Tuesday, bringing to five the total of people charged over the incident.

Syrian nationals Ibrahim Flej, 33, Ismael Rajih, 32 Kacem Al Flieg, 23, who all reside at the same apartment in Qormi, were charged with slightly injuring another man, participating in a gathering of more than 10 people in order to commit a crime, active participation in a riot, using obscene language or gestures in public and breaching the public peace.

Inspector Sarah Kathleen Zerafa, told magistrate Joseph Gatt that on February 6, officers at the Ħamrun police station heard sounds of a loud commotion coming from outside. When they emerged from the police station, the officers had followed a crowd of people who were all running in the same direction. The crowd led the officers to a large-scale brawl, said the inspector. Four individuals were arrested, two were released for medical treatment.

CCTV footage from the area showed that the defendants had all got out of the same van a distance away from where the incident took place. “When they alighted, they appeared to be waiting for something,” said the inspector. The men then set off running in the direction of the brawl, which was in an area outside CCTV coverage. One man was seen to return and retrieve a piece of wood from the van, which was later identified as having been wielded as a weapon during the fight. Two other Syrian men had been arraigned in connection with the same incident yesterday, she said, adding that they had been remanded in custody.

All three of the defendants arraigned Friday also pleaded not guilty. Defence lawyer Frank Tabone, assisting the men together with lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri, requested bail, arguing that the offences with which the men were charged were summary and minor offences, punishable by imprisonment for no more than 2 years. All three defendants had unblemished criminal records, lived and worked in Malta for 7,6 and 5 years respectively, he said, arguing that courts have found these grounds to be sufficient for bail to be granted, in the past.

The two other men who had been arraigned in connection with the same incident yesterday, were facing far more serious charges and were also currently being held in preventive custody, said the lawyer, expressing concern about his clients’ safety while being held on remand.

Inspector Zerafa objected to the men being released, on the grounds that there were several victims and eyewitnesses who were yet to testify, as well as because of the nature of the charges.

Xuereb added that at this stage, the third parties mentioned by the inspector had been arraigned yesterday and would also be witnesses.

The court denied bail for the reasons given by the prosecution, telling the defence that the bail request was premature. The magistrate urged the prosecution to bring its witnesses to testify at the earliest possible opportunity.

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