Paceville murder connected to dispute over organised crime prostitution ring, court told

The victim was a person of interest in a police investigation into organised crime

Two brothers have been charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of Joseff Rivas in Paceville last Monday.

In a late night sitting, accompanied by a sizeable police presence, 35 year-old Ionut Iulian Tanase and 32 year-old Dan-Andrei Tanase were arraigned before magistrate Ian Farrugia charged with murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, carrying a knife in public without a licence and breaching the peace.

The two brothers were also charged with offences relating to living off the earnings of prostitution. A third man is being treated in hospital and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.

Inspector Kurt Zahra gave the court an overview of the investigation which led to the arrest. Police had received a report of a stabbing in Paceville. At the time of the call, the victim was still alive, but a short while later the police were informed that the victim had died.

Investigations indicated that the murder was the result of a dispute involving an organised crime syndicate working in the field of prostitution.

The women showed the police messages indicating they were told to leave the country.

During the interrogation, one of the accused had told the police that after seeing all this going on, they could not fail to act.

The three men had been at a cafe in Ross street when they were approached by three men. CCTV showed a few seconds of communication, followed by a commotion involving the victim.

The men pleaded not guilty.

The defence did not request bail, but asked that a medico-legal expert appointed in the inquiry also document wounds allegedly suffered by the accused, in particular Ionut Iulian Tanase who he said had suffered a number of head injuries.

Inspector Zahra did not object. He confirmed that this had already been carried out by the court expert during the inquiry.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi explained that the defence felt this was necessary as they had not been present during the examination.

Inspector Kurt Zahra and Brian Xuereb prosecuted, assisted by lawyers Darlene Grima and Kaylie Bonnett from the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi, Franco Debono, Charmaine Cherret and Jacob Magri are representing the accused men.

Victim was “person of interest” in investigation into organised crime

News reports about the murder claimed that Rivas, 44, had been a person of interest to international intelligence services due to suspected ties to organised crime. The Malta Police Force had reportedly been working together with the UK and Romanian police forces on the investigation.