No bail for two men charged over Luqa knife fight

Two men remanded in custody on Wednesday on charges relating to a knife fight in Luqa which left both of them grievously wounded

Two men from Somalia were remanded in custody yesterday on charges relating to a knife fight in Luqa which left both of them grievously wounded.

Mustafa Duale Abokor, 43, of Ghasri in Gozo was first to be arraigned on Wednesday before magistrate Gabriella Vella, accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Abrahm Abdi Ahmed and holding Ahmed against his will. Abokor was also charged with being a recidivist. He denied the charges, and his legal aid lawyer also requested that Abokor be granted bail.

Lawyer Mark Mifsud Cutajar, assisting the defendant, argued that Abokor had been granted police bail after his initial arrest which demonstrated his trustworthiness.

Police Inspector Gabriel Kitcher, prosecuting together with lawyer Etienne Savona from the Office of the Attorney General, explained what had led to the arrest, confirming that police bail had to be granted because Abokor was being treated in hospital. 

The man had been instructed to report to the police station after his discharge from hospital, but when he did, his visit had coincided with that of the other participant in the December 22 brawl, who had been filing a police report about a second argument between the two men. This was a cause of great concern, the inspector said, as the second incident had taken place after their arrest and release on police bail. 

The prosecution also objected to bail since Abokor had several prior convictions in his 10 years living in Malta and his lack of strong ties to the islands. Inspector Kitcher pointed out that in 2014, Abokor had been jailed for 24 months for a prior knife attack in Gozo. Additionally, argued the inspector, the man represented a risk to witnesses and his documents reflected an incorrect residential address in Gozo, argued the prosecution. 

AG lawyer Savona also emphasised the use of a knife in the attack,  which he said, was not a mere altercation with fists. The defendant had an alcohol problem which was thought to be a factor in his violent behaviour. In light of these submissions, bail was rejected. 

Abraham was arraigned next, on identical charges. He had to be represented by the same legal aid counsel as his assailant after at least five other lawyers on the legal aid roster declined for various reasons. 

To resolve the situation, lawyer Mark Mifsud Cutajar, who had already appeared for Abokor, offered to represent Abraham solely for the arraignment. This arrangement was accepted.

Both the prosecution and defence agreed to rest on the submissions made during the first arraignment,

Bail was requested for Abraham, which was opposed by the prosecution due to the risk of witnesses being approached or intimidated, as well as due to the gravity of the charges. Another factor was his lack of a fixed address and the fact that he was claiming to reside at the same address as the prosecution's main. Abraham was also denied bail.