Throat-slashing mugger jailed for 18 years

In a first decision of its kind, the court allows a victim to be heard before sentencing her assailant, who had pleaded guilty 

Rawad Briga Abdelsalam has been jailed for 18 years by the Criminal Court today for slashing a woman’s throat during a 2016 mugging after it heard his victim testify to how she still felt the effects of the attack to this day.

Briga Abdelsalam, from Libya, had been charged with the attempted homicide of a 25-year-old woman from Marsaxlokk. He was also charged with theft of a handbag and mobile phone, grievous bodily harm with a weapon, carrying a weapon during the commission of an offence against the person, breaching the peace, carrying a knife without a licence and relapsing. The attack occurred in Sqaq Lourdes, St Julian’s on 28 August 2016 at around 4:20am.

The woman told the court this morning about how the attack had affected her life. Physically, she said, she had lost a lot of blood at the scene and had lost her voice for several months. The victim works as an interpreter and was therefore unable to work until her wounds had healed. “I was very scared that I would not speak again,” she explained to Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti.

She still had visible scars on her neck and shoulder, she said.

“Emotionally, from that day on I have been scared of walking alone, especially at night. Not just in Malta. Wherever you are you still have that fear that someone will attack you. I fear that one day he will be free and we could end up in the same place.”

Her friend had also gone through psychological trauma as a result. The second victim is currently abroad visiting family, the court was told, and had not been notified with summons for today.

The accused was due to be sentenced today after a plea-bargaining agreement was reached by the defence and prosecution. The accused had pleaded guilty in January before the Court of Magistrates and had confirmed his guilty plea.

But the court said that after hearing the victim, it was not in agreement with the joint note filed by the parties, which had asked for a sentence of imprisonment for 15 years. By law, the Courts are not bound to accept such agreements, although in practice they do tend to follow them.

Instead, Mr Justice Grixti opted to disregard the plea bargaining agreement and condemned the man to 18 years in jail, also ordering him to pay €7,282 in costs.

Lawyer Nadia Attard appeared on behalf of the Attorney General. Lawyer Marc Sant appeared for Briga Abdelsalam.

READ MORE: Court gives throat-slash mugging victim opportunity to be heard before sentencing her assailant