Hugo Chetcuti murder: Relative in tears as jurors are shown knife that killed Paceville impresario

Bojan Cmelik stood up with police officers still on top of him after being tasered

Entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti was killed in 2018
Entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti was killed in 2018

A family member broke down in tears and left the courtroom, sobbing, as jurors were shown pictures of the knife used in the murder of Hugo Chetcuti.

The echoes of the woman’s sobs as she left the silent courtroom underlined the human aspect of the Paceville impresario’s murder, as the second day of the trial of Bojan Cmelik came to a close.

The jurors were being shown a selection of photographs that the officers had taken of the crime scene. Photos of Cmelik taken at the St. Julian’s police station showed him with blood around his left ear. Other photos were of the clothes Cmelik was wearing and the knife recovered from Cmelik’s possession.

The knife, with its 16cm blade, was taken for DNA analysis, the scabbard for fingerprint analysis. Jurors were shown both photographs of the knife and the knife itself.

Scene of crime officers also showed the jury the actual clothes and wide-brimmed straw hat Cmelik was wearing.

Chetcuti’s white shirt, bloodstained at the front, lower left-hand side and with two small slits where the knife punctured it, was also shown up close to the jurors.

Police Inspectors Robinson Mifsud and Frankie Sammut testified briefly today, the former confirming to jurors that Cmelik had changed his surname from Mitić in March 2016, the latter stating that Cmelik had arrived in Malta on 1 June 2016 and had not travelled to or from non-Schengen areas.

Cmelik nearly escaped during his arrest

Earlier today, jurors were told how Bojan Cmelik had to be tasered multiple times, almost escaping, before he was subdued and arrested.

Several police officers gave the jury their accounts of the chase and arrest of Bojan Cmelik, the man on trial for fatally stabbing Paceville impresario Hugo Chetcuti in 2018, as Cmelik’s trial enters its second day.

PC Ivan Attard was stationed at STJ police station. At around 10:30 pm they received a call reporting a stabbing near Hugo’s Boutique Hotel He had gone to the scene with a colleague. As soon as they arrived they were approached by a man identifying himself as Isaac Chetcuti, the brother of the victim, Hugo Chetcuti.

Isaac Chetcuti told the police that he was having a drink at a new establishment they had just inaugurated, Seafood and Cocktail. A man approached and called Hugo’s name and went to hug him and at that point stabbed him twice. Hugo had told his brother “aqbdu aqbdu” (catch him, catch him), the jury was told.

“Without knowing what had happened, but with Hugo collapsing on his stool, Isaac had given chase,” accompanied by some security staff. “Isaac specified that the assailant was really fast,” said the police officer.

Isaac Chetcuti had chased the assailant, but lost him and returned to the place of the stabbing, said the officer. The suspect was wearing a dark top or shirt, a light-coloured shorts and a hat. At that point the police went towards Spinola bay in their squad car. They were stopped by a colleague who told them that he had seen a man matching the description of the aggressor run in the direction of Sliema. Near Surfside the officer had seen the man running on the rocks of the bay.

Serbian national Bojan Cmelik has been charged with the murder of Hugo Chetcuti
Serbian national Bojan Cmelik has been charged with the murder of Hugo Chetcuti

From there the officer gave chase and the person returned to the promenade. “He ran into the road behind Lombard Bank and as soon as I saw him in the road, I identified myself as a police officer and ordered him to stop. From there he went around the block of apartments and returned to the promenade. I lost him there. I communicated to my colleagues and an intensive search was started.”

Shortly after RIU informed them that they had detained the suspect in St. Helen’s street. The officer had gone to the place and found the suspect on the floor handcuffed with the police around him. His colleague administered the caution and a search of his person was performed. “We found a knife in a holster on his side.” He was taken to the police station. A search on his person found two keys on a keychain. He told police that his name was Bojan Cmelik born on 6 September 1982.
Cmelik was taken to hospital for treatment of some injuries and the officer returned to the police station.

The officer was shown a holster which he recognised as that worn by the accused. The murder weapon was again showed to the jurors today. “At the time I saw it on his waist” added the witness in answer to a question from jurors.

Ex PC Karl Dimech said he was notified of a stabbing at Paceville and had gone to Hugo’s Boutique Hotel, meeting Isaac Chetcuti there. “He told us that he saw a person hugging his brother and then later he saw him stabbing him.” The victim had already been taken to hospital.

He identified the accused in the dock, but said his appearance had changed somewhat – “his stature has reduced, he has lost weight from his face,” Dimech said.

PC Glenn Vella gave jurors an account of the struggle to subdue the suspect. “One of the (taser) probes came out and the man stood up with the officers still on his back and was about to escape again.” Cmelik was restrained on the third attempt. “What I can say is that when he was on the floor he was still trying to kick us, he was so strong.” At that point, the officer used the taser as a direct stun gun and handcuffed him.

This was corroborated by PC Joseph Camilleri, who told jurors that he had shot the taser at the suspect, who fell to the floor, removed the taser probe and tried to run off.

Once handcuffed, the man was searched. Police found a black-handled knife in a scabbard around his waist, which was shown to the jurors.

Cmelik was escorted to the Floriana health centre after his arrest.

The doctor who treated him Dr. Robert Patiniott told jurors that the accused had two small cuts on his ear and also complained about an irritant which had been sprayed in his eyes.

Cmelik’s eyes were swollen and visibly irritated and were washed with saline solution, he said.

Asked by a juror whether pepper spray might have been the cause, the doctor explained that he could not determine the cause. “The eyes were swollen and irritated, I cannot identify the irritant.”

The three RIU officers involved in Cmelik’s arrest were also certified as suffering slight injuries.

One had been struck on the nose, another had scratches and a bruise under the ribs while the third officer had a superficial graze on the inner side of his elbow. None of those injuries were classified as grievous, the jury was told. 

No fingerprints on knife’s leather scabbard

A fingerprint expert from the police forensic testified. He had examined the black leather scabbard for fingerprints.

He explained the technical process to extract fingerprints from the exhibit. No fingerprints were detected, he said. Leather is very difficult to take fingerprints off, he explained after being asked by a juror whether this was normal.


Cmelik is being represented by legal aid lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace.

Lawyers Joe Giglio and Mario Spiteri are appearing on behalf of the Chetcuti family.

Lawyers Kevin Valletta and Maria Francesca Spiteri from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.

Mr. Justice Aaron Bugeja is presiding the trial.

READ ALSO: First day | Jury told how weapon used to murder Hugo Chetcuti was found on accused