Jeremie Camilleri charged with murder: 'Not a simple traffic accident but wilful homicide'

Jeremie Camilleri is charged with the wilful homicide of 30-year-old Pelin Kaya • Pleads not guilty and no bail is requested

Jeremie Camilleri (left) will be charged with wilful homicide of Pelin Kaya (top right) after running her over in Gżira with his black BMW that also smashed into a KFC restaurant
Jeremie Camilleri (left) will be charged with wilful homicide of Pelin Kaya (top right) after running her over in Gżira with his black BMW that also smashed into a KFC restaurant

A driver who hit and killed a woman with his car while high on drugs has been charged with murder as a police inspector told the court this was "not a simple traffic accident but wilful homicide".

Jeremie Camilleri, 33, from Lija had been behind the wheel of the BMW which rammed into 30-year-old Pelin Kaya, while she was walking on Testaferrata Street in Gżira at 1am on Wednesday morning.

Camilleri, who told the court that he does not work, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail was not requested and Magistrate Joe Mifsud turned down a request by the defence lawyers to send the accused to Mount Carmel Hospital to continue receiving psychiatric treatment.

Mifsud said Camilleri will go to the Corradino Correctional Facility and it will be the director over there to determine the best care plan possible.

Prosecuting inspector Kurt Zahra did not mince his words when testifying on the arrest: "This was not a simple traffic accident but voluntary homicide."

Camilleri was charged with a total of 14 offences: wilful homicide, inflicting grievous injury leading to death, grievously injuring a second woman and slightly injuring a man.

He was also charged with damaging private property: a petrol station, a parked car and the restaurant into which he crashed. Other charges include dangerous and reckless driving, driving under the influence, violently resisting arrest and attacking private citizens.

He is also facing drugs charges :possession of cocaine and diazepam, breaching the peace and violating the conditions of a probation order.

The case will now be assigned to another magistrate for the compilation of evidence to start.

Kaya, from Turkey, had been rushed to Mater Dei Hospital by ambulance but died of her injuries. An interior designer, Kaya is believed to have been working in Malta for a year and was celebrating her birthday on the day she was killed.

CCTV footage of the incident that later went viral shows a black BMW crashing headlong into the Gzira KFC outlet next to the Paul & Rocco petrol station. Kaya had been walking next to the petrol station and her body was flung several metres by the violent impact.

The driver, later identified as Camilleri, is then seen emerging from the vehicle and assailing passers-by. He then threw bricks at the victim, who was on the ground at that point, and other passersby.

The driver had to be tasered twice by police officers before he could be taken into custody.

Drug tests revealed that Camilleri had high levels of cocaine and alcohol in his bloodstream.

Although Camilleri is believed to have had previous convictions, for reasons which are not clear, only his most recent conviction can be found on the court website. That conviction dates back to just two weeks ago, when, on 4 January, Camilleri had pleaded guilty to shoplifting items from health food stores in Sliema and Attard and breaching a probation order.

He was subsequently sentenced to probation for three years.

17:58 QUICK RECAP: Jeremie Camilleri, 33, from Lija has just been charged with wilful homicide of Pelin Kaya, 30. Camilleri ran over Kaya in Gżira and smashed his black BMW into the KFC restaurant. The driver was then aggressive towards passers-by and the police. He had to be tasered to be subdued. Kaya died shortly after being run over. Kurt Sansone
17:56 The sitting is over. The accused leaves the courtroom and will be transported to the Corradino Correctional Facility. Kurt Sansone
17:53 The victim's sister, present in court, is weeping quietly. Kurt Sansone
17:53 The magistrate goes off on a tangent and eulogises the efficiency and safety of the prisons. Kurt Sansone
17:52 Magistrate Joe Mifsud praises the work of the 33 doctors at CCF. He tackles the mistaken impression that persons detained at the forensic ward are allowed to mingle with other patients. “The forensic ward is not part of Mount Carmel Hospital, but part of prison. It is a section which happens to be on the grounds of MCH,” he says. Kurt Sansone
17:51 Bail is not being requested. Kurt Sansone
17:51 The court says this practice of courts ordering persons to be held at Mount Carmel Hospital is wrong. He will be sent at the Corradino Correctional Facility, the director of which will decide where he is to be held after assessing him. Kurt Sansone
17:50 Defence lawyer Alfred Abela says that during the investigation the accused was under psychiatric care and had been held under constant watch. He asks the court to recommend he be detained at the forensic ward at Mount Carmel Hospital. Kurt Sansone
17:50 The accused is asked his details. Jeremie Camilleri, 33, born in Toulouse, France on 22 February 1989. “Do you work?” “No,” he replies. Kurt Sansone
17:45 Magistrate Joe Mifsud continues: “This is a general reflection. There are rights which protect everyone. We [society] deserve at least as many rights as the accused.” Kurt Sansone
17:44 Citizens need to be protected, the magistrate says. “This is what society wants: that the institutions listen to them and not those who spread the culture of death and killing, to satisfy certain lobbies. If we're not going to get on our feet, cocaine and other substances are costing us lives. Let us not allow the introduction of a culture whereby you are considered not normal unless you consume cocaine at parties… Citizens and visitors to our islands should feel safe here, not get killed.” Kurt Sansone
17:42 The magistrate reads out a statement, expressing dismay at another incident where a person lost their life: “I am sorry, as a court, that there are still people who spread the culture of death, be it alcohol or drugs. Today we are suffering the consequences of those who want us to be normal and carried off with the current trend where celebration involves cocaine…” Kurt Sansone
17:41 Inspector Zahra: “It was not simply a traffic accident but a voluntary homicide.” Kurt Sansone
17:40 Jeremie Camilleri resisted arrest, the inspector says. The victim was identified as Pelin Kaya. Shortly after the crash, the girl lost her life. Kurt Sansone
17:39 Inspector Keith Zahra says that on 18 January the police were informed that a man drove his car into the KFC restaurant in Gżira and a person was in imminent danger of dying. The driver had also been throwing stones at bystanders. Kurt Sansone
17:38 Assistant AG Philip Galea Farrugia is also present. The magistrate asks the prosecution to explain what led to the arrest. Kurt Sansone
17:37 Jeremie Camilleri is also being assisted by two interpreters, who are now being administered the oath. Kurt Sansone
17:37 The case is being heard by Magistrate Joe Mifsud. Kurt Sansone
17:36 The small courtroom is packed to the gills with police officers, journalists and family members. Kurt Sansone
17:35 Inspector Keith Zahra and Inspector Shamus Woods are prosecuting, together with Attorney General prosecutor Kayliegh Bonnett. Kurt Sansone
17:34 Lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin are defence counsel. Kurt Sansone
17:33 Lawyers Shazoo Ghaznavi, Charlon Gouder and Ramona Attard are parte civile for the victim's family. Kurt Sansone
17:33 The accused is sitting pensively on the front bench, dressed in a black padded jacket and tracksuit. He exchanges words with lawyer Rene Darmanin who is sitting next to him, before the lawyer stands up and joins the rest of the legal team. Kurt Sansone
17:32 Our senior court reporter Matthew Agius is inside the hall waiting for proceedings against Jeremie Camilleri to start. Kurt Sansone
17:31 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone

Last November, an unidentified attacker flung what has been described as a small explosive device through a window into Camilleri’s residence.

READ ALSO: Woman in fatal Gżira car crash is 30-year-old interior designer Pelin Kaya