Victim of Marsaxlokk pistol assault fled Malta fearing assassination, court told

Suspect was carrying large amount of cash. Crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia, ammunition and mobile phones found in house search

A man who suffered a broken jaw after being pistol-whipped and threatened at gunpoint over a missing €600 has fled Malta, convinced that his assailant would “send someone to kill him,” a court heard today.

The compilation of evidence against Ian Zammit from Zejtun continued before magistrate Elaine Rizzo on Friday, with the prosecuting police inspector, James Mallia, giving a detailed account of the investigation that led to Zammit’s arrest.

Inspector Mallia said he had received a call from the Zebbug police station on September 28, about a report of a fight which had left one participant with facial injuries. The victim, who had gone to Zebbug from Marsaxlokk, had told the police that his assailant was Ian Zammit, nicknamed is-Sugar.

The man said Zammit had been showing off and at one point put a firearm to the victim's head and cocked it. The victim pushed it away and told Zammit not to hurt him. Zammit had then struck him with the pistol’s handgrip.

But tracking Zammit down proved to be harder than expected. The inspector explained that the suspect was constantly on the move, changing his address frequently to prevent the police from finding him. Mobile phone location data indicated he had been staying in Tarxien, Rahal Gdid and other towns in a short span of time. Zammit had also failed to sign his three bail books, which were exhibited in court today.

Zammit was eventually arrested at Zejtun police station and searched. Inspector Mallia told the court that the suspect had been carrying such a large amount of cash on his person that “we couldn’t count it.”  

A .22 calibre cartridge was found in his possession, together with an iPhone, three old mobile phones thought to be used as “burner” phones and an Apple watch.

Police conducting a search at his residence found a large bag full of coins, more cash and more old mobile phones. Officers also found a box for Rosary beads stuffed with SIM cards, wrapped in a paper which had names and what appeared to be amounts scribbled on it.

Crack cocaine, a crack pipe, a makeshift bong, 29 sets of keys and a garage remote were amongst the other items recovered from Zammit’s residence.

Zammit told the police that he had fought with the victim over €600 and claimed that the victim had scratched his face and arm, “next to his Al Capone tattoo.” But when the defendant tried to show the police a photo of the injuries on his iPhone, it was noted that the photo itself showed that it had been taken in Marsaskala at 3am, at a time when Zammit should have been in Zejtun, under curfew. 

When asked about this, Zammit did not reply, instead waiting for the inspector to plug the device into a charger before grabbing it out of his hands and slamming the phone on the ground, telling the inspector “Now you can’t get anything from it.”

The inspector exhibited the items seized, one by one. Three bank cards were in Zammit’s name, the rest had been issued to others.

Police found six rounds of .22 calibre ammunition in a mug at his girlfriend’s residence in Qormi. She initially told officers that Zammit had not been there in the past two weeks, but had later admitted that this was not true, after being confronted with evidence to the contrary.

Not only did Zammit rotate his stays at various residences, but he had also booked short stays in various hotels under assumed names. The owner of one hotel told the police that he had thrown out a man matching Zammit’s description “because he had been bringing different women over and causing disturbances at the hotel.”

Zammit had been asleep during most of the searches, but had woken up at around 10pm while police had been searching his mother’s house. He had confronted the inspector, shouting “daqs dan ssiba l-arma,” hand on crotch.  It was noted that very few outfits belonging to the defendant were found in the house. Asked whether Zammit lived there, his mother replied that “he sometimes sleeps here,” inspector Mallia said.

The suspect had later started crying and begged the inspector not to allow the forfeiture of his bail money.

It had taken the inspector over 40 unsuccessful attempts to phone the alleged victim before his call was answered, he said. The victim was described as absolutely terrified and as having fled Malta “because he feared Zammit would send someone to kill him.”

Next to testify was police inspector Doriette Cuschieri, who told the court how the alleged victim had gone to the Zejtun police station on August 10 to report that that morning Zammit and another person had gone to his house and threatened him at gunpoint. A female companion of his had opened the door and let the men in while he was showering.

“This revolver is real,” Zammit had told him. CCTV footage from the victim’s house showed that Zammit had visited the property, she said.

The victim, whose name is subject to a publication ban, was due to give evidence via video conferencing today, but his deposition was suspended until he could consult with a lawyer after the court cautioned him that he could potentially incriminate himself by testifying.

The compilation of evidence will continue later this month.