Court rejects bail request for one of accused in Paceville murder

Court rejects bail request filed by Dan Andrei Tanase, one of three men accused of the murder of Joseff Rivas in Paceville last year

Paceville murder victim Joseff Rivas
Paceville murder victim Joseff Rivas

A court has rejected a bail request filed by Dan Andrei Tanase, one of three men accused of the murder of Joseff Rivas in Paceville last year.

33-year-old Tanase, his brother Ionut Iulian Tanase, 36, and Ilie Constantin, 33, charged with murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, carrying a knife in public without a licence and breaching the peace. The men also stand charged with offences relating to living off the earnings of prostitution.

Rivas was stabbed to death outside a cafe in Paceville last December, in a murder thought to be connected to a turf war between Romanian criminal gangs in the prostitution business. He was 44.  He was a person of interest to international intelligence services due to his suspected ties to organised crime.

The Malta Police Force had reportedly been working together with the UK and Romanian police forces on an investigation into an organised crime syndicate working in the field of prostitution.

In a decree handed down today, Magistrate Astrid May Grima rejected the bail request filed by Tanase’s lawyers citing a number of grounds, amongst them the man’s lack of strong ties to Malta and the fact that the court was not convinced that he would comply with his bail conditions.

Although the bail application claims that Tanase had found employment, the court had not been provided with evidence to show that the company he said he worked for even existed and neither had the Court been told how much he would be earning. Tanase did not appear to have family in Malta, noted the court, stressing the serious nature of the murder charges he was facing.

In a previous sitting the court had heard investigators explain how the three accused men had been having a coffee at a bar in St Julian’s when Rivas and three other well-built men had crossed the street to go to the same bar.

CCTV showed Tanase shaking hands with one of the approaching men. Two minutes later, a fight erupted between the two groups of men, with stools and menu boards being used as weapons.

Inspector Kurt Zahra had told the court the altercation seemed to have its roots in a disagreement between the three accused and a man named Rasvan about how earnings from a prostitution ring were to be divided up. The defendants were pimps who would take half of the prostitutes’ earnings and would pay half of that money to Ravsan, he said.

The inspector added that one of the defendants had told the police that they had been informed that Rivas had sent hitmen to kill them and had bought knives from a nearby souvenir shop to defend themselves.

After stabbing Rivas 28 times in less than two minutes, the three men had fled on foot, later taking a taxi to an apartment in Swieqi.

The compilation of evidence will continue in November.

Prosecutors Darlene Grima and Kaylie Bonett from the Office of the Attorney General are assisting Police Inspectors Kurt Zahra and Brian Xuereb. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi, Franco Debono, Charmaine Cherret, Francesca Zarb and Jacob Magri are representing the accused men.