Man charged over Christmas day arson attack

44-year-old Isam Mohamed el Shahumi is accused of setting fire to a Renault Megane on Christmas Eve

A police investigation into a Christmas Eve arson attack on a car in Marsa has led to the suspect being identified and charged.

Mellieħa resident Isam Mohamed el Shahumi, 44 from Libya, appeared in the dock before Magistrate Ian Farrugia this morning, accused of having set fire to a Renault Megane on the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas day, last year. 

Inspector Mario Xiberras told the court that the targeted car had been parked in Triq il-Marsa, Marsa when it was set alight. 

A police patrol had spotted the burning car and had dismounted from their patrol car, putting out the fire with their fire extinguishers.

CCTV of the area showed that the fire had been started intentionally, he said and had also led to the identification of the arsonist’s rental car. Investigators found that the vehicle in question had been rented to the defendant and an arrest warrant was issued in January, but the man could not be traced.

The man was arrested yesterday after a tip off led the police to a hotel in the north of Malta, where the accused was found to be residing.

The defendant was also accused of causing voluntary damage, as well as with driving without a licence or insurance. He was also charged with recidivism.

El Shahumi, who told the court that he was employed by a friend, pleaded not guilty to the charges. No request for bail was made at this stage.

Police Inspectors Mario Xiberras, Jeffrey Scicluna, Elisia Scicluna prosecuted, assisted by lawyers Daniel Tabone and Joseph Azarov Camilleri from the Office of the Attorney General

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb were defence counsel.