Third man charged with fatal Paceville stabbing

A third Romanian national is charged with the murder of Joseff Rivas in Paceville, which police suspect is connected to rivalry between international prostitution syndicates

Paceville murder victim Joseff Rivas
Paceville murder victim Joseff Rivas

A third individual has been charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of Joseff Rivas in Paceville last week.

Police believe the murder is connected to rivalry between international crime syndicates linked to prostitution.

Magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace is presided over the arraignment of 31-year-old Romanian national Ilie Constantin.

Constantin, who appeared in court accompanied by his sister and several other relatives, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, carrying a knife in public without a licence, breaching the peace and living off the earnings of prostitution.

The arraignment nearly didn’t happen at all, after problems with finding an interpreter for the arraignment almost led to the expiry of the 48-hour arraignment time window of the man’s arrest.

When this morning's sitting finally got underway, Inspector Kurt Zahra informed the court that the accused’s sister could be asked to testify and asked that she be ejected from the courtroom. Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi asked the inspector to quote the article of the criminal code on which he was basing his plea, arguing that this was a procedural point which only affected proceedings before the Criminal Court.

The magistrate dictated that it should be noted in the acts of the proceedings that the man’s sister and other relatives were present in the courtroom.

The accused told the court that he had no fixed address in Malta and was currently unemployed.

The defence did not request bail at this stage, but requested that the interpreter be ordered to be present for all of its meetings with the accused at Corradino Correctional Facility.

Azzopardi also asked the prosecution to summons the Chief Government Medical Officer in order to exhibit the entire medical file relating to the accused.

Rivas, a dual Romanian-British citizen, died in hospital after being stabbed at around 3:30pm on Ross Street in Paceville on Monday. 

The 44-year-old murder victim is understood to have 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 into an organised crime syndicate working in the field of prostitution.

Last Wednesday, Romanian nationals Ionut Iulian Tanase, 35, and Dan-Andrei Tanase, 32, had been arraigned in court 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 had also been charged with offences relating to living off the earnings of prostitution.

Police suspect that Rivas had been involved in an altercation with a group of men, who had fled after the stabbing. During the Tanases’ arraignment, the court had heard how the three men had been at a cafe when they were approached by another three men. CCTV showed a few seconds of communication, followed by a commotion involving the victim. The other two accused men are currently in preventive custody, having not requested bail.

Inspectors 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, Marion Camilleri, Charmaine Cherret and Jacob Magri appeared for Constantin. They are also representing the other two accused men in the proceedings against them.