Lilu King's brothers and girlfriend told witness to lie, court hears

Court hears how a Range Rover belonging to Mohamed Ali Ahmed al Mushraty ‘Lilu King’ had accumulated €11,000 in fines

Libyan-born Al Mushraty, a boxer, stands charged with money laundering, tax evasion and participation in organised crime
Libyan-born Al Mushraty, a boxer, stands charged with money laundering, tax evasion and participation in organised crime

The case against Mohamed Ali Ahmed al Mushraty, known by his nickname “Lilu King” took an unexpected twist on Monday after it emerged that the defendant’s girlfriend and brothers had called up a witness after al Mushraty’s arrest.

Libyan-born Al Mushraty, a boxer, stands charged with money laundering, tax evasion and participation in organised crime. He is also facing other charges relating to breaching bail conditions and unlicensed driving. 

When the compilation of evidence continued before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech on Monday, A business partner of Al Mushraty’s, a Tunisian-born naturalised Maltese citizen, took the witness stand.

The witness, whose name is subject to a publication ban, told the court he had a 50% stake in a Paceville restaurant, the other 50% of which is Elmushraty’s. 

The gross revenue from the establishment in question varied from month to month, he said, adding that it had made over €100,000 in sales in December, around €50,000 in January and approximately €70,000 in February. Around 50% of those figures was profit, he added.

Elmushraty’s defence lawyer, Franco Debono pointed out that the witness was not registered in Malta for tax-related purposes, warning the prosecution to “be careful with where they were going with this.”

After the police paid a number of visits to the 280sq.m property, due to noise and indoor smoking complaints, as well as problems with the health authorities, the witness had decided to divest himself of the operating licence, which had been issued in his name so as not to continue risking his MTA licence. 

But while on the witness stand the man became increasingly evasive in his answers, earning him a warning from the court. Inspector Mark Mercieca, noting discrepancies between his statement to the police and his testimony, asked him whether he had been contacted by anyone since being questioned.

The man explained that he had received a number of phone calls from a private number, which he did not answer. “Then I received a phone call from Lilu’s girlfriend, asking me to speak to him,” he said. Asked when this had happened, he replied that he had been called by the defendant’s girlfriend, “Nancy,” around two weeks ago to see why he wasn’t taking calls.

“I told her that the only calls I had received were from private numbers,” said the witness. She had also sent him messages.

“What were you waiting for to tell us this?” demanded the magistrate, immediately appointing an expert to download the messages and call logs from the witness’ phone since the date of Elmushraty’s arrest on 24 May.

Debono suggested that the defendant did not have access to his girlfriend, but Inspector Mercieca replied that he did, adding that the woman was currently in Italy.

The court ordered the police to investigate every person who had made contact with the witness with the aim of influencing his testimony.


Inspector Mercieca told the court that Nancy had told the witness that the private numbers were phone calls from Elmushraty from prison, but pointed out to the court that such calls are not received as private numbers.

After the messages from Nancy, the witness said he had also been approached by Elmushraty’s brother, who is also named Mohammed, known by the nickname “Hwejta” and another unnamed man in connection with Elmushraty’s Range Rover bearing the number plate “Lilu King.”

Lilu King next to his Range Rover
Lilu King next to his Range Rover

He had met them at the Valletta Waterfront on 7 June, where he had been working on cruise liners, after they asked where he was. They arrived in a red Toyota, he said.

They spoke to him about the Range Rover, which is registered in the witness’ name, but belongs to the defendant. The Court asked the witness about the reason for this arrangement. “When we opened the restaurant, I registered it in my name because he didn’t have all the paperwork at the time.”

Inspector Mercieca asked what the brothers had spoken to him about. “They said the car was still in my name… I had told Lilu that I wanted to get it off my name. The problem was that to transfer the car the garnishees on the car had to be lifted,” replied the man.

Elmushraty’s brothers had pressured the witness to tell the court that the car was his, the court was told. The witness had informed the police of this when he had gone to collect his summons on Thursday. That was the last time someone had spoken to him about the Range Rover, he said.

Al Mushraty’s car had accumulated €11,000 in fines

He explained that he had later tried to transfer the car’s registration on to Elmushraty because it had accumulated a staggering €11,000 in fines, but could not, due to a garnishee order relating to the witness’ other tourism-related business. 

The court wondered out loud how a car could be allowed to accumulate €11,000 in fines.

The car had been bought for €100,000 from Charles Sterling Autodealer, recalled the witness who said he was present for the deal. He said he did not know if it had been bought in cash. 

Lawyer Franco Debono asked that the witness be sent out of the courtroom to discuss a point of law.

Al Mushraty’s €100,000 Range Rover had accumulated €11,000 in fines
Al Mushraty’s €100,000 Range Rover had accumulated €11,000 in fines

“If the defendant is charged with money laundering, I understand that one of the acts of money laundering is the purchase of a car for €100,000, so if this man is participating in money laundering why isn’t he being charged as an accomplice in money laundering?”

Prosecutor Antoine Agius Bonnici replied that the matter “is discretionary on the prosecution”, telling the lawyer to file challenge proceedings if he felt it necessary.

“The police cannot just grant a pardon to someone,” argued Debono. “This is what it amounts to. The police cannot promise a witness that no action would be taken against him in return for his testimony. He must also be investigated for unexplained wealth,” argued the lawyer.

When the witness returned to the courtroom, he confirmed that Elmushraty would use the car, which was bought on hire-purchase.

After more evasive replies about regular business meetings with the defendant at his bar, Inspector Mercieca asked the witness whether he was afraid of someone or something, in view of the discrepancies between what he had told the police and his testimony. 

No progress was made, however, leading the police Inspector to request the court declare the witness hostile. Lawyer Marion Camilleri, also appearing for Elmushraty, objected. The Magistrate dismissed the objection, pointing out that it was obvious that the witness was holding something back. “He used a particular word: meeting and I am not an idiot. A friendly chat is not a meeting.”

But the prosecution did not have a transcript of the witness’ statement to confront him with, only an audiovisual recording. The court ordered a transcription of the statement be made to be used in the next sitting.

The witness testimony was suspended until this was carried out. After consulting with the law, the court observed that it could not impose a protection order in favour of the witness, as such an order would only bind the defendant and not the others who were allegedly attempting to influence his testimony.

Chef on €5,000 a month

The last witness to testify today was a former employee of Elmushraty’s. He had worked as a chef in Malta since 2004, naming a number of well-known restaurants as past workplaces

He had worked at Elmushraty’s restaurant for a year, he said. The previous witness had been his boss, together with Elmushraty, but had left after a while.  

Asked what this work consisted of, the witness said he was a chef and manager at the restaurant and would be paid directly by Elmushraty - usually in the region of €5,000 a month in cash. “But I wouldn’t always make five, sometimes four, or less due to Covid,” he added.

His employment was registered with JobsPlus, he said. The witness said he knew that the defendant had business in Libya, but did not know what type of business, saying it was “probably car-related”. 

“We are not close friends, but are friends,” he said.

He had bought a Mercedes from a Buġibba auto dealer on a hire-purchase agreement, and had paid €12,000 out of the €37,000 total price. After he scratched the car in an accident, he had decided to sell it to Elmushraty, discussing the plan with Elmushraty, who he said, gave him the go ahead.

A €10,000 deposit was paid and the defendant would pay him monthly instalments of €500. The auto dealer was aware that the car was in Elmushraty’s possession but did not allow the sale to go through, he said. An outstanding balance of €17,000 remains on the car.

He told the court that another reason he had wanted to get rid of the car was the €8,000 in fines that Elmushraty had accumulated on it.

The case continues.