Pelin murder: police say accused lived amongst rats and filth

Jeremie Camilleri's house was found to be in a state of ‘extreme neglect’ with a witness describing the state of the apartment as ‘frightening’

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

The court compiling evidence against the man accused of the shocking murder of Pelin Kaya has been told that the man accused of intentionally running her over lived in abject squalor.

Several police officers took the witness stand as the case against Lija resident, Jeremie Camilleri, continued before magistrate Rachel Montebello on Thursday afternoon.

The 33-year-old accused appeared tense as he took his seat in the dock. Members of the Pelin family packed into the courtroom, a black and white photograph of the victim pinned to their lapels. Five prison guards stood behind Camilleri, separating him from the victim's parents and other members of the victim’s friends and family.

One of the witnesses who testified today, a police sergeant who had been present for a search of the accused’s home, described the squalid conditions in which the accused apparently lived.  Jeremie Camilleri's house was found to be in a state of “extreme neglect”, said the witness, describing the state of the apartment as "frightening." He recalled seeing rats running around and excrement smeared on the floor, the toilet overflowing. "I would not want to live there," he told the court.

The sergeant had also spoken to several eyewitnesses at the scene of the fatal crash. They described the hellish aftermath of the BMW X6 being driven by the accused, ploughing into the facade of the Gzira KFC outlet.

Several bystanders had told the police sergeant that they had seen Camilleri pelting the victim’s body with stone debris from the crash. One recalled hearing the accused shouting "1 2 3, viva l Algerie".

The court was given an overview of how the police had created a timeline of Camilleri’s movements on the night of the murder using CCTV footage from several places along the route.

It took just seven minutes for Camilleri to travel from his Lija residence to Gzira where the fatal incident took place.

A speed camera on the route had captured the BMW driven by Camilleri travelling at 75.8km/hr.

At the end of today’s sitting, magistrate Rachel Montebello decreed that the court had seen sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant the accused’s indictment. The acts of the case were sent to the Attorney General for this purpose.

The compilation of evidence continues in March.


13:15 That is all for today. Thanks for following. Karl Azzopardi
13:06 As we exit the courtroom we find Pelin's mother sitting on a bench, crying inconsolably. Karl Azzopardi
13:04 Case adjourned to 16 March at 11:00am. Karl Azzopardi
13:03 The court also decrees that there was sufficient prima facie evidence for Jeremie Camilleri to be indicted. Karl Azzopardi
13:03 The court upheld the request and appointed another psychiatrist to examine the accused today and report on his mental state. The expert will also be given access to the accused's medical file, she decrees. Karl Azzopardi
13:02 Inspector Zahra draws the court's attention to the fact that the accused had already been under the care of a psychiatrist, suggesting that his psychiatrist be summonsed to testify. But Abela points out that this would make the psychiatrist an ex-parte witness, reducing the value of his evidence. Karl Azzopardi
13:00 The accused's psychiatric problems had already emerged in court, says the parte civile lawyer. Karl Azzopardi
13:00 Ghaznavi says it is not clear whether the issue was treated today or before the incident. Karl Azzopardi
12:59 Abela explains that it had emerged from today's testimony that the accused was on medication. Karl Azzopardi
12:58 Ghaznavi asks what the aim of this examination is. Abela: "I am making a simple request. That the court appoint a psychiatrist to examine the accused, see his medical file. The prosecution objects to this, asking what is the point." Karl Azzopardi
12:57 The request had not been noted by the arraigning magistrate, says the magistrate. Karl Azzopardi
12:56 The defence asks that a psychiatrist be appointed to examine the accused. Prosecution and parte civile object, saying that the accused is being held at Corradino Prison. Lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi says that from what has emerged so far, the accused was examined in hospital before his arraignment. There was also a defence request during the arraignment that he be examined with a view to being held at Mount Carmel Hospital. Karl Azzopardi
12:55 Abela asks to be allowed to see the footage. The court solicits the prosecution to bring the IT expert to testify without delay. Karl Azzopardi
12:52 Inspector Kurt Zahra informs the court that the footage had been extracted during the inquiry and had been passed on to a court expert who would testify at a later stage. Karl Azzopardi
12:51 The defence requests the court to appoint someone to download and exhibit the body cam footage. Karl Azzopardi
12:50 The police were told that the pharmacist had been spoken to by the psychiatrist, who had instructed her to dispense Camilleri his medication on a weekly basis. The pharmacist told the police she would dispense it to the accused every day to minimise the risk of confusion. Karl Azzopardi
12:48 Abela suggests that Camilleri had been taken to pick up medicinals from a nearby pharmacy. The witness confirms. Karl Azzopardi
12:47 Camilleri's house was in a state of great neglect, said the witness, describing it as "frightening." Rats, excrement on the floor, the toilet overflowing. "I would not want to live there." Karl Azzopardi
12:45 The lawyer suggests that the accused's residence was connected to his mother's, through the back garden. The sergeant confirms this, but the entrance was blocked. Karl Azzopardi
12:44 Lawyer Alfred Abela stands up to cross-examine the sergeant. Karl Azzopardi
12:43 A nearby parked car is also targeted by Camilleri, says the witness. Every incident is captured on film and given a number. The witness is going through them one by one. Karl Azzopardi
12:42 Another capture shows Camilleri picking up another stone, throwing it at the bystander. Karl Azzopardi
12:41 A bystander had tried to throw a rock at Camilleri, who caught it in mid-air and threw it at Pelin's prostrate figure Karl Azzopardi
12:40 In a series of photographs, he is shown bending down five times to pick up rocks from the ground. The last time he picked up two. Karl Azzopardi
12:40 One of the photos captured the victim being flung through the air, he said. Another camera shows her body hitting the ground. Other photos show Camilleri attacking bystanders and some of the bystanders fighting back. Karl Azzopardi
12:38 It took just seven minutes for Camilleri to travel from his Lija residence to the place where the fatal incident took place. Karl Azzopardi
12:34 The sergeant compiled a timeline of the accused's movements, consisting of over 170 photographs, which he exhibited in court. Karl Azzopardi
12:33 There was the BMW driven by Camilleri was clocked at 75.8km/hr on the bypass. Karl Azzopardi
12:33 The shortest way possible for Camilleri to arrive at the scene of the crime was established as being the Birkirkara bypass. So, investigators asked LESA whether any speeding tickets had been issued to the vehicle used by the accused on the night. Karl Azzopardi
12:31 The sergeant was present together with the inquiry expert for the extraction of data from the CCTV cameras in the locations mentioned. Karl Azzopardi
12:30 Camilleri was arraigned and denied bail. Karl Azzopardi
12:30 Camilleri was then escorted to the Floriana lockup. On the 19th, the witness had recovered CCTV footage from houses neighbouring the accused's Lija home. Karl Azzopardi
12:30 The BMW X6 used by the accused was searched the following day at the police compound at Ta’ Kandja, where it had been towed. The accused was present for both searches. Nothing of relevance was found inside the car. Karl Azzopardi
12:27 The apartment floor was covered with water. Camilleri's mobile phone was seized by the police and taken into evidence. Nothing more of relevance was found inside the house. Karl Azzopardi
12:27 The accused's mother had given police the key, but they were unable to open the door as it had a key in the other side. The accused's mother entered from her adjacent property and opened the door for the police. Karl Azzopardi
12:27 When the police arrived, the eyewitness had moved closer and saw Pelin being administered CPR by paramedics, he told the officer. The sergeant and a colleague had identified all the CCTV cameras which could be helpful. That same day he had been present for a search of Camilleri's Lija residence. Karl Azzopardi
12:25 He hadn't been close enough to see the victim but said he heard the accused shout "1 2 3, viva l Algerie". Karl Azzopardi
12:24 The final bystander was spoken to, after he left hospital. The accused had attacked the driver of a Peugeot 208 and then tried to attack him, he told the police. The aggressor had continued to throw stones at the entrance of KFC and bystanders. Karl Azzopardi
12:22 One of the bystanders had checked Pelin's pulse, but when the police arrived the crowd of bystanders dissipated and left the man alone. Karl Azzopardi
12:22 The sergeant spoke to another bystander, who said that he had tried to assist the victim, but the driver of the X6 had prevented him from approaching. He saw the driver throwing rocks at the victim. Karl Azzopardi
12:21 Yet another person spoken to at the scene, told the sergeant that he had been driving his own car from Msida direction and heard a loud brake. The driver of the other vehicle, got out of the car and tried to punch him but missed. The assailant had then tried to pull him out of the car. The eyewitness drove away at speed, clipping the BMW's wing mirror in the process. He stopped a short distance away, seeing the man throwing stones and shouting "alazobbi alazobbi" Karl Azzopardi
12:17 But after the crash, the driver got out and hit him in the neck with such force that he fell to the ground. The driver then kicked the witness while he was on the ground. The eyewitness had scrambled into his shop and closed the shutter until the police arrived. Another person spoken to by the police said that he had just arrived and saw the pastizzi shop employee on the ground and helped him to his feet. Nicole Meilak
12:15 He had canvassed the area trying to find any potential witnesses to the incident. One of the people spoken to was a worker at a pastizzi shop. This person told the sergeant that he had been sitting outside the shop when he saw a vehicle crash into the KFC restaurant. He had not seen the woman being run over. Nicole Meilak
12:13 Sergeant Kristen Xuereb from the homicide squad takes the stand next. He had gone to the scene, finding the scene to be "well preserved" and cordoned off. The BMW X6 was embedded in the KFC restaurant's facade, he said, also noting a lot of debris on the ground. The driver of the vehicle had been arrested by RIU officers at that time, he said, recognising the accused in the courtroom. Nicole Meilak
12:12 The inspector said he was also present for Camilleri's interrogation at CID and during his arraignment. There are no questions from the defence. Inspector Woods steps off the stand. Nicole Meilak
12:11 The witness recognised the aggressor in the courtroom, identifying him as the person clearly visible on the CCTV footage, which showed the BMW running Pelin Kaya over and then the accused throwing stone debris at her body. Camilleri had already been taken away when the inspector had arrived. Nicole Meilak
12:06 Another bystander told the police that he had been attacked and assaulted by the accused, and had suffered injuries. Near the victim there was a mobile phone that was ringing. Nicole Meilak
12:04 One of the bystanders told the police that the driver of the crashed vehicle had thrown debris at the victim. The inspector informed the duty magistrate, who appointed a number of experts to assist in the inquiry before coming to the scene in person. Homicide squad Inspector Kurt Zahra also arrived at the scene. Nicole Meilak
12:03 Woods describes the broken stonework strewn across the road and one of the victim's shoes. Meanwhile, the court advises the media not to publish the names of bystanders named by the inspector. Nicole Meilak
12:01 The victim was given first aid by officers. She had extensive head wounds, he said. She was taken to hospital and later certified dead. Camilleri was already in handcuffs when district police arrived, having been detained by RIU units. Inspector Woods instructed officers to seal off the crime scene and alert the major crimes unit. Nicole Meilak
12:00 The initial report received from the Control Room specified Testaferrata street, the wrong location, but was soon corrected. Police officers went to the scene and found the BMW X6. "It appeared to have first damaged the Paul and Rocco petrol station and then crashed into KFC," he says. Nicole Meilak
11:59 The proces verbal - the acts of the magisterial inquiry completed by Magistrate Nadine Lia - is exhibited in the acts of the compilation of evidence. Inspector Shamus Woods from the Sliema police station takes the stand first. Nicole Meilak
11:55 Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters. The court is now in session. The interpreters are sworn in. Nicole Meilak
11:53 It seems like it is going to be a crowded sitting. Even though all the seats in the small courtroom have been taken up, people are continuing to file in. Nicole Meilak
11:52 Camilleri has just been led into the courtroom. The 33 year-old accused looks tense as he takes his seat in the dock. Members of the Pelin family now stream into the courtroom, a photo of the victim pinned to their lapels. No less than five prison guards stand behind Camilleri, separating him from the victim's parents and other family. Nicole Meilak
11:33 The prior sitting has just finished. The magistrate has retired to chambers for a short break before Jeremie Camilleri’s sitting starts. Nicole Meilak
11:26 The sitting was scheduled for 11am but a separate hearing is currently underway. We will update this space when it starts. Nicole Meilak
11:26 33-year-old Jeremie Camilleri stands accused of murdering Pelin Kaya last month. Camilleri is alleged to have killed the Turkish woman after driving his car headlong into her and crashing the vehicle into a fast food restaurant in Gżira. He had to be tasered by police officers before being arrested after he got aggressive with them and bystanders. Nicole Meilak
11:11 Good morning. Our court journalist Matthew Agius will be reporting to us live from the courtroom as the compilation of evidence against Jeremie Camilleri continues on Thursday. He is charged with the wilful homicide of Pelin Kaya. Nicole Meilak