Man accused of attempted murder in knife attack on Englishman

A 37-year-old man has been charged in connection with the alleged attempted murder of a 21-year-old Englishman in Sliema

File photo
File photo

A 37-year-old Libyan man has been charged in connection with the alleged attempted murder of a 21-year-old Englishman in Sliema.

Magistrate Monica Vella was told how Hisham Ali Abuagilla grievously injured his victim with a knife on 6 August at Tigne Point.

A joint operation between the Sliema District police and the homicide squad within the Major Crimes Unit led to the arrest of the man, who told the court he worked as a self-employed plasterer, at around 8:30pm, on Sunday evening in Qui-Si-Sana.

After a search was made, he was found to be carrying a pocket knife and several small packets with substances suspected to be cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis, and circumstances indicating that they were not for personal use.

Abuagilla, who told the court that his birthday was tomorrow, was charged with attempted murder, causing grievous injury, breaching the peace and carrying a knife in public without a police permit. He was further charged with possession of cocaine and ecstasy, and cannabis, which were found in a protein shake bottle at his home.

Lawyer Noel Bianco, appearing for the accused, did not contest the validity of the arrest. A not guilty plea was entered.

The prosecution requested the court issue a protection order in favour of the alleged victim. The AG lawyers also requested a freezing order over the assets of the accused.

Bail was requested. The lawyer argued that the victim had been released from the hospital, and so the charge was now attempted grievous injury. His last brush with the law was in 2016, and he had strong ties to Malta.

“I am not attempting to minimize the seriousness of the charges, but this was a fight between two men…he is presumed innocent…he had a bad day and made a mistake.”

Lawyer George Camilleri insisted that the charges were attempted homicide and that the victim had not yet testified. There was a “tangible and real” fear of him tampering with evidence. In addition, it took almost 10 days for the police to trace him in Malta. “It appears that he has the means and know-how required to disappear.”

He reminded the court that the accused also had three types of drugs in his possession. “This is not a person who can be described as a law-abiding citizen.”

Lawyer Etienne Savona added that the man tried to mislead the police about his address.

Bartolo countered that the police looked at the wrong address. The accused was prepared to abide by all the conditions that could be imposed by the court and had a third party guarantor ready to provide security.

Savona said the accused had asked the police who was making the allegations against him. “Have we reached the point where you can’t ask the obvious question when accused of a crime?” Bartolo retorted.

The prosecution and defence argued over the accused’s understanding of the Maltese language. In court, the man was accompanied by an interpreter, but had not been so assisted during his interrogation, said the lawyer.

The court denied bail at this stage but urged the prosecution to summon all of its witnesses as soon as possible.

The prosecution was led by lawyers George Camilleri and Etienne Savona from the Office of the Attorney General and assisted by the Inspectors Colin Sheldon and Wayne Camilleri.

Lawyer Noel Bianco was defence counsel.