Man charged over Ħamrun stabbing

Man remanded in custody on charges relating to a knife attack in Ħamrun as the court denies bail due to the severity of the charges and the risk of evidence tampering

A man has been remanded in custody on charges relating to a knife attack in Ħamrun earlier this month.

Inspector Sarah Kathleen Zerafa arraigned unemployed Santa Venera resident, 27-year-old Ahmed Hamid Hammadi from Syria, before Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia on Wednesday.

Police had received a report from another member of the local Syrian community on 9 May that the defendant had gone over to his house and knocked on the door.

The victim told him to leave, but the defendant did not and waited for him outside the property. The victim went out to try and speak to Hammadi who then assaulted him with a penknife, while attempting to stab him in the abdomen. The victim suffered defensive wounds to his hands while fending off the knife thrusts.

Inspector Zerafa explained that the defendant had gone to the police station to report an unconnected incident some days later and was arrested after officers recognised him from a photo provided by the victim.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Nicholas Mifsud entered a plea of not guilty and requested the defendant be temporarily released from arrest.

Inspector Zerafa objected to the bail request due to the risk to evidence, in view of the fact that the victim was yet to testify. The victim was terrified and had been contacting the police frequently to find out what was happening in this case, said the inspector. “He was badly affected by this wound.”

Xuereb argued that the defendant had gone to the police station himself to seek assistance and was arrested. In the three weeks that had passed until action was taken against him, “had the defendant wanted to tamper with evidence, he had ample time to do so,” submitted the lawyer, telling the court that Hammadi’s family lived in Malta and that he had strong ties to the country.

Mifsud added that the only witness was the victim. The law afforded protection order for such a witness, breaching which would put the defendant in much worse trouble.

The defendant had also been attacked and injured in the incident, added the lawyer, saying that it was “too early to say whether he had done everything he is being accused of”.

Inspector Zerafa added that Hammadi’s only identification document was a Bulgarian ID card and that he had proved very difficult to track down. He had no ties to Malta, rebutted the inspector, telling the court that the defendant had been in the country for just a year and five months.

The court, in view of the nature of the charges, the man’s lack of ties to Malta and the risk of tampering with evidence, denied bail.