‘Lilu King’ wanted in Libya on murder and drug trafficking charges, court told

Mohamed Ali Ahmed Elmushraty is wanted in Libya to answer to murder and drug trafficking charges, according to court testimony

Elmushraty is being charged with money laundering, tax evasion and participation in organised crime
Elmushraty is being charged with money laundering, tax evasion and participation in organised crime

Boxer-cum-businessman Mohamed Ali Ahmed Elmushraty is wanted by Libyan authorities to answer murder and drug trafficking charges, a court has been told.

Police Inspector Robinson Mifsud from the Interpol section of the police’s International Relations Unit was one of the witnesses to take the stand in a lively sitting before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech on Monday afternoon.

On May 7, the Tripoli Interpol office had sent further information on “Mohammed Ali Al Musrati”, whose passport number, date of birth and other details, as well as photographs, all matched the defendant’s.

Tripoli had told the Maltese police that Elmushraty was wanted for “serious offences.” He was wanted by the Tripoli Attorney General in connection with crimes which included drug trafficking, murder, membership in dangerous groups and trafficking in other illegal substances, said the witness.

Authorities from the two countries were currently in communication with each other, with a view to extraditing Elmushraty, he said.

Cross-examined by lawyer Franco Debono, the witness said he was aware of the situation in Libya. The documents were issued by Interpol Tripoli which was recognised on our platform the same as Interpol Valletta.

Debono suggested that Elmushraty had been granted refugee status. The witness was not aware of this, and the court pointed out that the witness had not mentioned it so could not be cross-examined on it.

“Malta gave him refugee status because he was being persecuted!” shouted Debono. 

Debono suggested that no supporting documentation was sent. “Why do you think he was granted refugee status? He was being persecuted.”

Mohamed Ali Ahmed Elmushraty 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.

At one point during the sitting, Debono accused the prosecution of trying to mislead the court and failing to summon all their witnesses. Prosecutor Antoine Agius Bonnici slammed the lawyer’s actions, telling the court that according to the standards established by the European Court of Human Rights there was no breach of rights.

Debono angrily interrupted, pointing out that a month has passed, four sittings have been held and yet only two civilian witnesses had been heard. “They are dragging their feet!” he shouted.

Debono asked the prosecution to bring all its civilian witnesses to testify in the next sitting. “What do you want me to do? It is obvious that the civilian witnesses must testify. Now that the court has given a date for all of the witnesses, he’s saying he can’t notify them in time. It’s unbelievable!” shouted the lawyer.

The magistrate replied  that the prosecution was not dragging its feet and Agius Bonnici pointed out that the prosecution was keeping to the number of witnesses stipulated by the court every sitting. It might not be possible to bring all of the civilian witnesses to testify in such a short timeframe, he explained.

The prosecutor objected to Debono’s demands and protested that the defence lawyer was “making us out to be imbeciles.”

Debono then angrily accused the magistrate of being too soft on the prosecution. “So the court orders the prosecution to bring its evidence, fixing a date for all the evidence and they don’t comply and then it doesn’t take steps against them?...There is a limit, you know! There is a limit!” Debono shouted.

Agius Bonnici calmly pointed out that the court allocated an hour for prosecution witnesses and an hour for prosecution arguments “and that is exactly what we did. There are 12 witnesses left,”  said the prosecutor. 

Debono refused to make submissions on the prima facie decree, which would pave the way for Elmushraty’s indictment, saying he had not been informed of this and had not come prepared. The magistrate read out the adjournment she issued at the end of the last sitting: which said that today’s sitting was for submissions on prima facie.

The sitting degenerated into a shouting match that lasted around ten minutes.

When order was eventually restored, the court pointed out that it had not seen any evidence of an organised crime group so far, urging the prosecution to be cautious when using “buzzwords”. “A group maybe, but not that it is criminal,” remarked the magistrate.

Debono said that instead of bringing their important civilian witnesses first, the court was hearing witnesses testify for the second time because of a technical problem with the recording.

The magistrate explained that the case was not based on civilian witnesses, but added that she would like to start hearing evidence relating to the charge of money laundering. “Laundering the proceeds of what? What crime resulted in the proceeds which need to be laundered? I have yet to hear anything about this. The underlying activity for money laundering is proven both by civilian witnesses and police.” Frendo Dimech also expressed irritation at Debono’s repeated digs at the court. 

Debono accused the prosecution of gilding the lily.  “I understand what the investigation is about. Now bring witnesses to substantiate it.”

The lawyer requested a constitutional reference, saying that despite the prosecution’s declaration about prima facie being “just one of the stages of the criminal law process” the prosecution was also obliged to exhibit all of its evidence as quickly as possible to allow the defendant to understand what he is being charged with and to be in a position to defend himself from them.

He accused the prosecution of completely ignoring the court’s instructions and instead continuing to resist presenting important witnesses.

Car dealer tells court he never dealt with Elmushraty

An auto dealer who had sold one of the luxury cars used by Elmushraty was brought to testify at the order of the court today, and at the insistence of the defence. He had never dealt with Elmushraty, he said. "I have never seen the defendant before. I heard his name for the first time on the media," he said.

The car in question was registered to an associate of Elmushraty and payments would be affected by still another man, explained the dealer. There was also still an outstanding balance for the purchase of the car, he said. 

Inspector Mark Mercieca asked the witness whether he could exhibit a contract of sale for the car. It did not exist, was the reply. “I didn’t do one on this occaision.” Asked by the court as to how, then, he knew what was left to be paid for the car, the witness explained the balance was stated on the bills of exchange used to buy the car.

The sitting was adjourned. The case continues.