Witnesses struggle to recall Grech murder events

Magistrate reprimands witnesses over testimony.

Murder victim Simon Grech
Murder victim Simon Grech

Magistrate Carol Peralta reprimanded two witnesses in a murder case, who claimed they could not remember particular details of what had happened because of their drug use problems.

Witnesses Dorianne Galea and Ronald Grima took the witness stand in the compilation of evidence against 42-year-old Libyan national Ismael Habesh and 46-year old Tunisian national Faical Mohouachi, who stand charged with the murder of Simon Grech in April 2005.

The first witness to take the stand, Dorianne Galea, claimed there were details she could not recall due to her long years of substance abuse. She currently resides in a rehabilitation centre, where she is trying to kick the habit; but Magistrate Peralta warned her from concealing the truth.

“If it results that you are lying or hiding the truth I will instruct the police to investigate you over perjury,” he said.

Galea said that she, her brother Jason Galea and Stephen Brincat used to frequent a bar in Marsa. On the fateful night in 2005, Habesh had entered the bar asking for a candle or torch, but neither the patrons nor the barman could help him. Before leaving the bar, Habesh, described as looking confused, told her friends that he would see them the following day with murder victim Simon Grech.

Galea said that while it was possible that the Libyan had been abusing drugs, she had no proof of this but that she had heard others say so about him.

Galea said she knew Simon Grech, and that she last saw him that evening at 10:30pm. “He was wearing a blouse but I do not recall if he was wearing a skirt or trousers. Either way his clothing was very feminine,” she said.

The witness told the court that the location where the victim’s body was found was a couple of metres away from where she had seen him last. She could not remember any other details.

Galea, who said that she would regularly be found sleeping rough in the street, said her mobile phone line was frequently used by the bar’s patrons.

The second witness, Ronald Grima, is currently living at the Caritas rehabilitation centre in Birkirkara. He knew Simon Grech, having last seen him at the detox centre in Gwardamangia. He said Grech had an affair with the accused, Habesh, while précising that “never saw them together in bed…”

The prosecution reminded the witness that in his statement to the police, he declared that on the previous Sunday he had met Grech, who had told him his relation with Habesh was over because they did not get along well together. The witness recalled telling this to the police but could not recall any detail about the day the police had spoken to him.

Prosecuting inspector Chris Pullicino complained with the court, saying the witness was being hostile in his replies and refusing to give details he recounted to the police nine years ago.

“Grima had informed us that Habesh had asked a man, named Abdul, if a corpse could be identified if more than 20 days had passed since his death. Abdul replied that even if more years passed, there were still ways by which a corpse could be identified. Abdul is a Libyan national with Maltese citizenship – he has two kids and resides in Bugibba.  How come the witness cannot recall any of this?” the prosecution argued.

The case continues.