Victim of attempted murder identified shooter, inspector tells court

Prosecution says motive behind attempted murder is still not known

Victim Vince Muscat 'il-Kohhu' covers his face as he is escorted out of court by police officers on 7 July, 2010
Victim Vince Muscat 'il-Kohhu' covers his face as he is escorted out of court by police officers on 7 July, 2010

Vince Muscat, known as ‘il-Kohhu’, who in April was shot three times in the neck and hand, identified his shooter on the eve of the latter’s arraignment, prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud told the court today.

Arnaud was testifying during the compilation of evidence against Jonathan Pace, of Gudja, who is being charged with the attempted murder of 53-year-old Vince Muscat, known as “il-Kohhu”.

The attempted murder occurred in the evening of 8 April in Bordin Street, Pieta when Muscat was shot hit by two rounds in the neck and hand, while a third grazed him.

The victim was a co-accused in the attempted murder of two police officers in the failed bank heist on the HSBC main office in Qomri in 2010. Muscat had allegedly fired over 30 shots at the police. He is still out on bail.

Jonathan Pace, 31, of Gudja, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder and is currently being remanded in custody.

Despite his serious injuries, the victim had managed to drive to the police station, where he was given first aid and rushed to the hospital.

Taking the witness stand, Arnaud told the court that initially, Muscat was reluctant to say who shot him, and that he had only seen a black car approaching.

“His first impression was that there was one person or more in a black car, and that one of the persons got out of the car and shot him. However, he was adamant that he did not recognise the shooter.”

“Subsequently, he told me that it was ‘useless to tell me who the perpetrator was, because nothing could be done,” Arnaud held.

Testifying, Arnaud told the court that on the eve of the arraignment of Pace, the victim went to the police headquarters in Floriana and told police that it was Pace who shot him.

This admission fuelled the police’s suspicion in Pace, who on the day had already been arrested by police on suspicion of the attempted murder. Arnaud told the court that after tracing the phone logs of the victim, they discovered the mobile number of the accused.

Cross-examined by defence lawyer Gianella de Marco, Arnaud however explained that the victim had phoned Pace, and not vice versa.

Despite discovering the phone logs and subsequently charging Pace of the attempted murder, Arnaud explained that the police have yet to establish the motive. He also told the court that police have yet to establish a connection between the two men.

CCTV footage showed getaway car

Presided by Magistrate Carol Peralta, the court also heard how the car used in the attempted murder, a black Peugeot, had been spotted by nearby CCTV cameras. Jonathan Pace had rented the car a few weeks prior to the incident.

The car had mismatched colours, a broken aerial, and also had considerable damages. Two days later, it was found burned and abandoned, where investigators corroborated the details of the car with those spotted on the CCTV footage.

Meanwhile, despite being summoned to court this morning, Muscat did not attend court proceedings because he was admitted to hospital.  Magistrate Peralta however insisted that the victim must testify at home, with the attendance of the accused and his lawyer.

Lawyers Gianella de Marco and Joe Giglio are defence counsel while Arthur Azzopardi and Kathleen Grima are representing the victim. Inspector Keith Arnaud is testifying.

The case continues.