Man convicted over €333,000 heist refuses to testify against Daniel and Begtash Muka

Albanian man refuses to testify against Daniel Muka and his brother Begtash declaring that he had family in his home country whose safety he would be putting at risk were he to do so

Daniel Muka being led to court, still wearing his bloodstained jacket
Daniel Muka being led to court, still wearing his bloodstained jacket

A 30-year-old Albanian man has refused to testify against Albanians Daniel Muka and his brother Begtash, who are undergoing separate proceedings relating to a €333,000 heist.

He was sentenced to four years in jail last month after admitting to taking part in the October 2017 robbery of a jewellery shop.

The man, Artan Coku, cited fears for his family’s safety as the reason for his refusal.

Coku was arraigned in court this morning before Magistrate Victor Axiaq, accused of having refused to give evidence under oath in the separate compilations of evidence against the Muka brothers.

In an unconnected case, Daniel Muka is accused of murdering Christian Pandolfino and his partner Ivor Maciejowski at their home in Sliema in August 2020.

Coku had been in charge of the robbery’s logistics and had been responsible for, amongst other things, informing the Muka brothers about whether the Tignè Point shop had opened.

After admitting to the charges against him, Coku’s assistance to the Police had been a mitigating factor in his sentencing, which took into account the fact that he had volunteered useful information about how the hold-up had been planned and carried out.

Coku had admitted to having helped with the logistics of the hold-up, which was later allegedly carried out by Daniel Muka, his brother Begtash and Ramazan Hysa who are still facing related charges. Coku had told the police that the stolen jewellery was going to be sent to Bari, in Italy and eventually sold in Albania.

Besides the four-year prison sentence, the Court had also ordered Coku to pay a third of the court’s costs, amounting to over €14,500. The cost of repairs to the shop targeted by the gang was in excess of €65,000.

The Albanian was effectively a free man after the sentence was handed down, in view of the long period he had spent in preventive custody, which exceeded his sentence. However, the Police had stopped him from leaving Malta, holding him in a detention centre in order for him to testify against the Muka brothers.

But when he was brought to court to testify against them in two separate compilations of evidence on Friday, Coku declined to, on both occasions, declaring that he had family in Albania whose safety he would be putting at risk were he to do so.

Coku told the court that he was not afraid of prison and had no problem with being detained.

As Coku was a competent and compellable witness at law, the case against him having been decided, Magistrate Rachel Montebello ordered Coku’s re-arrest.

Coku was arraigned before magistrate Victor Axiak on Friday morning, pleading guilty to a charge of having failed to testify against both his alleged accomplices.

Superintendent James Grech prosecuted. Lawyer Daniel Attard represented Begtash Muka, while lawyer David Bonello appeared for Daniel Muka.