Hostile witness spared jail, after retracting evidence in Italian woman’s rape case

A man was this afternoon spared from going to prison for 48 hours, after he wilfully retracted his version of how he got to know about an Italian woman’s rape by two Somali men he was sheltering at his home in Floriana.

The Law Courts in Valletta
The Law Courts in Valletta

Magistrate Carol Peralta this afternoon revoked a 48 hour detention order against Charles de Falvia, 62 of Floriana, who was originally declared to be a hostile witness, when he changed his testimony on what he knew about two Somali men who are being charged with the rape of a 21 year-old Italian woman last month.

Abdiraman Abukar, 26, and Liban Mohamoud, 26, both of Floriana, are also charged with violent indecent assault, holding the woman against her will, harassing her, offending public morals and slightly injuring her.

When Inspectors Yvonne Farrugia and Carol Fabri presented de Flavia as a witness, he explained that he was giving shelter to the accused at his Floriana home.

However, when giving evidence in Court this afternoon, he changed the version of what he was told by the accused on the night the girl was raped.

When interrogated by the Police, de Flavia said that while Liban Mohamoud kept silent when he returned home at about 4am on March 26, the other Somali Abdiraman Abukar had boasted that "they had a good time with the Italian...many times."

He spoke in the plural, but when before the Magistrate, he changed the version to singular, prompting the prosecution to say why he was changing his version.

De Falvia said that he was telling the truth, and was warned by Peralta to be careful, and not to protect anybody.

After ordering De Flavia to be sent down to the lock-up cells for 15 minutes to refresh his memory, he was brought back up again into the court room, only to insist that the singular was the correct version.

Challenged again by Inspectors Farrugia and Fabri, the witness remained adamant to say that the accused spoke in singular.

It was here that Magistrate Peralta said that it was clear that De Flavia was not telling the truth, and that he was to be considered as a hostile witness, and also that he was deliberately obstructing justice.

Peralta ordered that De Flavia be detained for 48 hours, investigated and charged with perjury, which carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

But while the Magistrate retired to his chamber and the Police were about to escort de Flavia to the Police Headquarters, the witness started to panic and asked to be given the opportunity to testify again and correct his version.

Accepting the request, Magistrate Peralta summoned De Flavia back to the witness stand to hear him say that Abdirahman had in fact spoken about bot being involved in the assault on the Italian woman.

"He spoke in the plural. He added that she was picked up from Valletta and taken to Hal Far. She resisted and Abdirahman said he held her from her neck and both had sex with her, repeatedly," de Flavia told the court.

The witness added that Abdirahman had also shown him a white mobile phone the two had taken from the Italian victim, which was then sold for €100 to another Somali man who was living in the same Floriana household.

After hearing this evidence, Magistrate Peralta revoked the previous warrant for de Flavia's detention.

The Court also heard experts testify that DNA examinations made on scrapings and semen gathered off the victim's clothes and from under her nails, matched the DNA taken from the accused.

The Magistrate then ordered that there was enough evidence for the two Somali men to be formally indicted.

 

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