Albert Brian Rosso warned wife he would soon be dead, jury hears

Court hears how, a few days before his disappearance in 2005, Albert Brian Rosso told his wife that he didn’t have long left to live

A few days before his disappearance in 2005, Albert Brian Rosso had told his wife that he didn’t have long left to live, a jury trying the two men accused of his murder has heard.

Anthony Bugeja, 55, and 48-year-old Piero Di Bartolo are on trial, accused of killing Rosso and dumping his body at sea in 2005. The two men’s trial by jury, which is being presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera entered its fourth day on Thursday.

Mary Rose Rosso gave an, at times emotional, account of her husband’s final days as she testified against his alleged murderers.

A teacher, she had gone to work earlier than usual to prepare her classroom on the day he disappeared and had missed seeing her husband off as was her custom. Their last conversation had taken place over the phone, she recalled with regret.

They had agreed that Brian was to drive their daughter to an appointment because her car was being serviced, but he didn’t turn up. Her hopes to see him at home later that evening were also in vain.

She said her husband’s demeanour had undergone a sudden change, with him becoming preoccupied with threats to his life, sometimes being too afraid to go to work and on one occasion, telling her that he would soon be dead. 

After he failed to answer her phone calls, the witness said she had asked his parents to accompany her while she conducted her own search, following his usual route back from work from the San Lucjan aquaculture centre. The watchman on duty at the facility told her that he had not seen Brian Rosso that day.

Mary Rose Rosso had also called up Bugeja’s wife to ask for the addresses of the Italians who worked on her husband’s trawler, hoping for news. All of these attempts at locating Brian Rosso were unsuccessful however, and at around 9pm that night she had gone to the Żabbar police station to report her husband as missing.

The witness recalled two incidents which her husband had told her happened at sea, the first when Bugeja had shot a dolphin while Rosso had been feeding it. She recalled her husband as being upset because he had always insisted on not taking weapons on board. 

A second incident the witness mentioned involved Anthony Bugeja switching on the engine while Rosso had been in the water, removing a net which Bugeja had tangled around the propeller.

The jury was also read evidence given by the Italian captain of Rosso’s trawler, Sebastiano Cannarella, in which he claimed to have never met Rosso or taken him on the vessel during a fishing expedition.

The prosecution later declared that it had presented all its evidence to the jury, leaving defence lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi and Roberto Montaldo to begin their final submissions.

The defence insisted that the prosecution has failed to even prove that Brian Rosso was dead, arguing that the fact that nobody was ever found meant that he could still be alive.

Debono said the jurors must not “play detective,” and had to restrict themselves to the evidence that had been shown to them in the courtroom when reaching their verdict.

“Here we have nothing,” said the lawyer, pointing to the fact that no death certificate had been exhibited and neither had any evidence of Rosso’s blood having been found on the boat.

The trial continues. Lawyers Angele Vella and Andrea Zammit from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting. 

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Franco Debono are representing Bugeja, with lawyer Roberto Montalto appearing for Di Bartolo. Lawyer Stefano Filletti is parte civile.