Syrian left critical in attack by second cousins

Brothers beat their relative with a wooden beam, cause bruising, skull fractures.

A man who went to meet two others to collect money they owed him, ended in intensive care in hospital instead, after the two set on him with a wooden beam.

Faisal Alhamed, 31, of Syria, went to San Gwann expecting to be paid what he was owed for plastering work he had done for his second cousins.

The three relations were meant to meet at Vjal ir-Rihan on 26 May at around 8pm. Alhamed had been chasing his second cousins to pay up for the work he had done for them. But the two insisted they owed him nothing because they had agreed to pay a third party directly.

The compilation of evidence against Shawakh Kasem, 38, of San Gwann, and his brother Kasem Kasem, 37, of Marsa heard the victim on the witness stand recounting the ordeal which left him in the Intensive Unit at Mater Dei Hospital.

Alhamed told the court he was angry and irritated with his second cousins and that he had texted them. The defence urged him to tell the court what the text said, with the witness replying, “The text read that I was going for the money and they should know what that meant.

“It was not a threat,” he insisted.

When the Syrian, who lives in Hamrun, arrived at San Gwann, the two cousins, allegedly fearing for their lives, set on him, raining punches on his body and hitting him with a wooden beam, leaving him covered in blood which trailed along the pavement as he tried to flee. A passer by ran to the San Gwann police station but when the police went to the site, the area was deserted.

Moments later, the police were informed that a young man from Syria had been admitted to the A & E Department at Mater Dei Hospital and was in critical condition, having suffered fractures to the skull. Other injuries included lesions, heavy bruising in the face and loose teeth. Investigations revealed that the victim was Faisal Alhamed.

Further investigations led the police to the two brothers, Shawakh Kasem and Kasem Kasem. When questioned, the brothers led the police to where the assault had been made.

Asked to explain a trail of soil along the pavement, one of the brothers explained that when the victim ran away from them, he left a trail of blood. Scared that someone would see it and call the police they covered it with soil from a nearby garden.

The two were arraigned and charged with grievously injuring their second cousin and breaching the public peace. Shawakh was also charged with committing a crime during the period of a suspended jail term and Kasem was additionally charged with relapsing. They pleaded not guilty and Magistrate Aaron Bugeja remanded them in custody. 

In a sitting on Wednesday last week, defence counsel Jason Galea argued that in his text, Alhamed had threatened the two brothers. The text, written in Arabic, allegedly read “I’m coming to your house and you know what awaits you”.

The lawyer explained that, before the day of the assault, the victim had already gone to their residence. And, he added, it was the two brothers who had taken their bleeding relative to hospital.

The lawyer asked for bail for the two accused. The request was upheld but the Attorney General appealed, and last Friday the court ordered their re-arrest. However, in a sitting held on Monday morning, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit ruled that the two brothers should be released on bail, against a deposit of €5,000 and a personal guarantee of €20,000 each. 

Sources told MaltaToday that the police have CCTV footage which shows the attack on Faisal Alhamed. “It was a fight which lasted seconds, but it was barbaric”, the sources said.

Inspectors Saviour Baldacchino and Daryl Borg are prosecuting. Lawyer Jason Galea is appearing for the two brothers while Dr Arthur Azzopardi is representing the victim.

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