Five charged over kidnapping related to Syrian conflict

One man was individually charged for abducting the victim, while others were accused of complicity in the kidnapping

Four Syrians and a Libyan have been detained following accusations of threatening Mohammed Alsatif Ibrahim and kidnapping him against his will. 

The men, who have all been living in Malta for years, are accused of committing the crime between 3:30pm and 7pm on 13 January, with no intention of killing or endangering Alsatif's life, only causing him a minor offence. 

The five individuals were arrested yesterday following raids carried out by the police's counter-terrorism unit in Ħal Safi and Żurrieq. Police revealed that the issue between the aggressors and the victim stemmed from the situation in Syria.

Alhasan Abdulrahman, aged 36 from Syria, was individually charged with abducting the victim with the intent of injuring him. He was further charged with carrying a knife or sharp object without a licence.

Another three men are accused of complicity in abducting Alsatif with the intention of harming him. The men accused are Ghyas Dahrouj (aged 47, Syrian), Safi Dahrouj (aged 30, Syrian) and Fadel Abdulsalam (aged 39, Libyan).

Hassan Ahmed, aged 27 and currently residing in Żurrieq, was further accused together with Alhasan Abdulraham for instigating fear towards Alsatif and Bakir Masoud throughout the months leading up to 13 January.

Ghyas Dahrouj, Safi Dahrouj and Fadel Abdulsalam were similarly charged for intimidating Alsatif with the intention of violence against them or their property. 

Lawyers Lennox Vella and Amanda Spiteri Grech represented Fadel Abdulsalam in the hearing, while the other four were represented by Lawyer Kris Busietta.

The defence, through Dr Busietta, filed a request for the provisional release of the accused on the basis that they had been living in Malta for a long time and all have families to go to. 

They said that all is needed is for the victims to testify in court, and that this reason alone does not mean that the accused should be held under arrest.

Dr Lennox Vella told the court that his client has been married to a Maltese woman for the last 10 years. He mentioned that there are currently major COVID clusters in prison, and putting the accused in prison would force them into quarantine and render them unable to attend court.

The Prosecution, led by Inspectors Omar Zammit and Geoffrey Cutajar, strongly objected to this request because of the nature of the accusation and the fear that the evidence would be contaminated. The court, presided over by Magistrate Neville Camilleri, rejected the request for fear of evidence contamination, but urged the prosecution to present all the witnesses at the next hearing.

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