Men charged over €400,000 jeweller heist

Two men have been remanded in custody after being charged with robbing a jeweller in Attard last October

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

Two men have been remanded in custody after being charged with stealing some €400,000 from a jeweller in Attard in October.

40 year-old Josuel Farrugia from Qrendi and Anthony Rapa, 52, from Mtarfa were arraigned this morning before magistrate Ian Farrugia, accused of aggravated theft, criminal damage, and in Josuel Farrugia’s case, recidivism.

The shop in question had been robbed on 28 October by two masked men, who made off with the safe and €400,000.

Police Inspector Joseph Mercieca, prosecuting together with Inspector Christabel Chetcuti, told the court that police had recognised Rapa from footage extracted from CCTV cameras both inside and outside the shop. After Rapa’s arrest, further investigations on an unlicensed Tata Indica seen in the footage, had led to the arrest of Farrugia.

Lawyer Daniel Attard contested the validity of the arrest, on behalf of his client, Rapa.

There was no clear evidence as to why he was arrested, said the lawyer. “We are contesting all the evidence and the arrest as there was no reasonable suspicion for my client to be charged.”

Attard submitted that there was nothing to indicate Rapa in the footage. “I saw the CCTV. There is a masked person.”

The court, however said it was satisfied that the arrest was valid.

Rapa, who said he was unemployed, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Farrugia, a watchman, also pleaded not guilty.

The accused requested bail. This was objected to by prosecution, who said that there was evidence pointing to assistance by a third party with inside knowledge of the shop.

The prosecution conceded, however, that the men had been on police bail for five weeks after being arrested and had not attempted to approach any witnesses or breach their bail conditions.

The police had taken three statements taken from Rapa, the court was told. Rapa hadn’t answered any questions, admitted the defence, but the questions themselves indicated the victim and yet no attempt was made to approach the victim, Attard submitted.

Lawyer Joe Sammut for Josuel Farrugia, also told the court that there didn’t appear to have been any attempt to approach witnesses or the victim whilst on police bail. “They should not be deprived of their liberty,” he said.

On his part, parte civile lawyer David Farrugia Sacco reminded the court that there was a strong possibility of third parties being involved.

The court asked if there were any indications of third party involvement, but the inspector said there were only suspicions at this point.

After retiring to chambers to deliberate on bail, the magistrate said that the investigation was a heavy one and the crime was serious, as the accused were today not only suspected but now charged with a crime, adding a new dimension to the case.

Bail was denied.