Father and son charged after suspected revenge attack related to fatal 2020 Mqabba shooting

They were accused of grievously injuring the relative of a person accused of the 2020 fatal shooting

Vince Gaffarena (right) was shot in the face during his cousin Saviour Gaffarena’s (left) murder in July 2020
Vince Gaffarena (right) was shot in the face during his cousin Saviour Gaffarena’s (left) murder in July 2020

Two men have been charged in connection with an assault on one of the men accused of the 2020 fatal shooting of Saviour Gaffarena in Mqabba.

Eugenio Gaffarena, 63, a pensioner from Qrendi and his unemployed 19-year-old son, Vince Gaffarena, from Mqabba were arraigned under arrest before magistrate Monica Vella earlier today, accused of inflicting grievous injuries on Roderick Debono on 18 September at around 1pm. 

Debono is understood to be related to Leon Debono, one of the men accused of the 2020 murder of Saviour Gaffarena and the attempted murder of Vince Gaffarena.

27-year-old Saviour Gaffarena had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head as he sat in his car in Triq il-Konvoj ta’ Santa Marija, Mqabba on 29 July 2020. His cousin, 17-year-old Vince Gaffarena, had also been shot in the chest and the face in the same attack. 

Two men, Owen Schembri and Leon Debono, both from Mqabba, were subsequently charged with murder and attempted murder. Schembri was later granted bail.

Eugenio Gaffarena pleaded not guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm, carrying a weapon - in this case, a sawn-off shotgun during the commission of a crime, carrying the shotgun in public without a licence and uttering insults and threats towards Debono.

Vince Gaffarena - who the court was told, is still receiving treatment for the gunshot wounds he received two years ago was accused of complicity in these offences and illegally detaining the alleged victim. He, too, pleaded not guilty.

Defence lawyer Noel Bianco asked for bail, arguing that the accused men had proven trustworthy and had cooperated with the police investigation. He explained that the beating was connected to the fatal 2020 shooting in which one of the men charged today was severely injured.

Inspector Janetta Grixti, prosecuting confirmed the defence’s claim that the victim had not wanted to press charges, but explained that the police had to proceed in view of the grievous injuries suffered by the alleged victim.

Grixti opposed the bail request, in view of the fact that the victim had not yet testified, but confirmed that the accused men had cooperated with the police.

Bianco submitted that this is “unacceptable”  arguing that there were Constitutional judgments finding that this was not a valid ground to object to bail. The lawyer suggested a protection order be issued in favour of Debono.

The court denied bail at this stage but urged the prosecution to ensure that the alleged victim testifies in the next sitting. A recommendation that the director of Corradino prison ensured Vincent Gaffarena’s ongoing medical treatment continued, was also dictated by the magistrate.