Witness in BOV messenger's murder case warned against perjury

Witness confirms in court that Chris Scerri and James Vella were accomplices in the failed heist and murder of Alphonse Ferriggi in 2000; prosecuting inspector says accused’s relatives are intimidating witnesses.

Justin Fenech, a former friend of convicted murderer Richard Grech – the man who is serving a life prison sentence for the murder of BOV bank messenger Alphonse Ferriggi in September 2000 – confirmed in court today that Grech had told him that Chris Scerri, known as ‘Buttuni’ or ‘Gazzetti’, and James Vella, known as ‘il-Frejzer’ were in fact accomplices in the failed heist.

Fenech was summoned to testify in the case against Chris Scerri, 35, and James Vella, 33. The accused are pleading not guilty to the murder of Alphonse Ferriggi in September 18, 2000.

Grilled by prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud, Fenech told the court that he could not remember anything he had told police back in 2002, during investigations into the murder. After repeatedly refusing to answer the questions, Magistrate Josette Demicoli warned him about the consequences of perjury.

Vella and Scerri are pleading not guilty to the murder of Alphonse Ferriggi. Ferriggi, a BOV bank messenger, was killed with a single shot to the head. His attackers thought he was carrying money, which later turned out to be just bank mail.

Taking the witness stand, Fenech told the court that five days prior to the murder of Ferriggi, he had met Richard Grech at Mensija bar in San Gwann, where the latter had spoke of a plan that “would make him a lot of money.”

“Some days after I heard of the murder, I had heard that Grech had in fact committed the murder. When I asked him, he boasted of committing the murder but I did not believe him as he always exaggerated things.”

Frustrated at the lack of responses by Fenech, inspector Keith Arnaud read a police statement made by Fenech back in 2002. In his statement, Fenech had told police that Grech had boasted about the failed heist, and that ‘il-Frejzer’ and ‘il-Gazzetti’ were his accomplices.

Fenech, who during the compilation of evidence had his testimony suspended twice, confirmed that he had in fact told that to the police back in 2002, but insisted that he did not specifically mention the names of il-Frejzer and il-Gazzetti.

Conversely, they were brought up by “one of the ten CID officers surrounding him during interrogation.” Asked by the court to identify the accused, Fenech failed to do so, arguing that he does not know them.

Cross-examined by defence lawyer Franco Debono, Fenech told the court that he did not believe Gref ch and he took everything with a pinch of salt, because he was known to exaggerate.

The sitting also saw Inspector Arnaud request the court to reprimand the relatives of the accused, arguing that they are trying to intimidate witnesses by passing comments during their testimonies.

Moreover, there was also a brief moment of tension when one othe accused sitting in the dock was heard calling the inspector a cuckold.The accused then told Inspector Arnaud that his comment was not directed towards him.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli presided. Inspector Keith Arnaud prosecuted, while lawyer Franco Debono represented the accused.

The case has been adjourned until 29 July.