Rabat kidnap gang refused medical examination, court told

The six men accused of abducting and beating up a man in connection with the theft of a van had all refused to be examined by a court-appointed medical expert after their arrest

Christian Borg (Photo: Facebook)
Christian Borg (Photo: Facebook)

The magistrate compiling evidence against the six men accused of abducting and beating up a man in connection with the theft of a van has been told that the accused had all refused to be examined by a court-appointed medical expert after their arrest.

The compilation of evidence against Christian Borg, 28, from Swieqi, Thorne Mangion, 27, from Qormi, Tyson Grech, 26, from Isla, Burton Azzopardi, 20, from Bormla, Jeremy Borg, 20, from Qormi and Luke John Milton, 25, from Rabat continued on Wednesday.

They stand charged with the 21 January abduction of Carlos Schembri and severely beating him. All of the accused are denying the charges.

Schembri had reported being bundled into a vehicle, where he was beaten and threatened in connection with the alleged theft of a van. He managed to escape and report the matter to the police.

Medico-legal expert Dr Mario Scerri was summoned to the stand as the compilation of evidence against the men continued before magistrate Monica Vella on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr Scerri told the court that he had examined the alleged victim, Carlos Schembri and had identified injuries compatible with a beating. The doctor added that he had also been appointed by the court to examine the accused but that they had not consented to being examined.

Carlos Schembri had suffered injuries to his face: a black eye scratches to his face and ears and bruises compatible with blunt trauma, said Dr Scerri. He had also suffered a chipped tooth, said the doctor.

The expert’s conclusion was that the injuries were compatible with blows and were slight in nature. The colouration of the bruises indicated that they were recent.

“The subject had claimed to have been abducted and driven towards Cordin. He had escaped and ran to the Fgura police station and ran away before going to Paola police station to file the report.” 

“He told me he had received a beating from all of them,” Dr Scerri went on.

Prosecuting lawyer Karl Muscat asked the doctor why the accused men had refused to be examined by him at the police lockup. “They refused to be examined medico-legally. I cannot force them,” replied the witness.

Lawyer Giannella Demarco cross-examined the doctor, asking about the refusal. The accused had refused, one by one, to be examined whilst in the lockup, Dr Scerri said. He confirmed that the examination had taken place without their lawyers being present, saying that as far as he knew, the police were supposed to have contacted the lawyers.

Lawyer Stefano Filletti asked the witness about what the victim had said about the report he made to the police. “The victim told me that he had gone to the Fgura police station and had been ordered to go to the Paola station, but I didn’t find that credible,” said the expert. He had also spoken to the officers involved and they had told him that the man had gone to the Paola police station of his own accord.

Thorne Mangion’s lawyer, Michael Sciriha, asked what the expert had been appointed to do. “I was asked to examine them.” He explained that before the examination, he would inform the suspects that he would be reporting his findings to the court and asked them whether they consented to this. 

The expert said he had seen no sign of violence on them whilst conversing with them. The accused were fully clothed at the time they had refused to be medically examined, he added, answering a question by the defence.

Lawyer Jason Grima for Tyson Grech argued that his client had specifically asked for Grima to be present during the examination. “There is a difference between asking for a lawyer to be present and refusing on the advice of their lawyer,” protested the lawyer.

Dr Scerri said the prosecuting police inspector had been standing next to him when the accused had asked for their lawyers, as procedure dictated.

The case continues in May.

Police inspectors Sarah Zerafa and Roderick Attard are prosecuting, together with lawyer Karl Muscat from the Office of the Attorney General.

Christian Borg was assisted by lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Giannella Demarco, Steven Tonna Lowell and Michael Sciriha.

Lawyers Michael Scirha and Roberto Spiteri represented Thorn Mangion in the proceedings.

Tyson Grech was defended by lawyers Jason Grima and Franco Debono, who also appeared for Burton Azzopardi, together with Marion Camilleri. Lawyer Jason Grima also appeared for Jeremy Borg.

Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Matthew Xuereb appeared for Luke Milton.  

Lawyer Shaun Zammit represented the alleged victim, Carlos Schembri.

READ MORE: Victim of Rabat abduction threatened with having his fingers cut off and his sister raped