Court holds that Zebbug stabbing was self-defence

The court had heard how on the evening of 1 July, 2009, an argument about a garage broke out between the two families

A court has found a 63-year-old man from Zebbug not guilty of the attempted murder of a neighbour whom he stabbed during a fight in 2009, deciding that it was a case of legitimate self-defence.

George Farrugia had been charged with the attempted murder of George Saliba during a free-for-all fight involving members of two families, which had a long history of mutual enmity.

The court had heard how on the evening of 1 July, 2009, an argument about a garage broke out between the two families over a garage adjacent to Farrugia's house. Farrugia had been returning home when garage owner Saviour Camilleri, together with Saliba and other members of the Saliba family attacked him.

The court was told how Saliba had struck Farrugia with a metal pipe while Camilleri repeatedly kicked him. Farrugia suffered fractures to three vertebrae and a head laceration.

Farrugia retaliated with the knife, which he said was kept in the drive-in for gardening purposes, explaining that he had feared for his life and the safety of his family.

He told Magistrate Miriam Hayman how the preceding 13 years had been “a hell” due to disagreement over Camilleri’s use of the garage. It emerged that Camilleri had used it as a mechanic’s workshop but did not possess the necessary permit from the planning authority. The nuisance had driven the neighbours to organise a petition on the matter, to no avail.

The parties gave conflicting testimony, however court experts concluded that the incident took place close to Farrugia's house, which led them to the conclusion the Saliba family had attacked Farrugia and not vice-versa.

The magistrate was unconvinced by the version of events given by Camilleri and the Salibas, finding for the defence, which had argued that Farrugia had acted in self defence.

She also instructed the Commissioner of Police to launch an investigation into whether the garage in question holds a permit to be used as a mechanic shop.

Lawyer Joe Giglio appeared for Farrugia. Police Inspectors Malcolm Bondin, Daniel Zammit and Joseph Mercieca prosecuted.

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