Court hears conflicting versions of Swieqi stabbing incident

The compilation of evidence in the cases resulting from a stabbing incident in Swieqi on the 30th January, thought to have been sparked by Libyan sectarian tensions

The four Libyan men involved in a stabbing incident in Swieqi late last month had given conflicting versions as to what started the argument to police, a court has been told.

Zouhir Elfezqa is accused of the attempted murder of Wadea Al Maghrbi and inflicting grievous injuries on him. Mohammed Abdul Hafid Abukem is accused of attempting to grievously injure Elfezqa, slightly injuring him, holding him against his will and carrying a knife without a licence. Al Maghrbi is charged with attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm on Elfezqa, causing him slight injuries with a sharp and pointed object, holding him against his will and threatening him.

Inspector James Grech, testifying this morning before Magistrate Josette Demicoli, said that Mohammed Hafed al-Araa had been visibly in shock when he went to the St Julian's police station to report that his friend was being assaulted by two other Libyans in the Swieqi flat.

Officers accompanying al-Araa to the apartment found Al Maghrb lyingi in a pool of blood, unconscious with Al Maghrbi's friend, Abukem, standing beside him.

Al-Araa pointed out the two men as being the ones who had attacked his flatmate Elfezqa, who was not present when the police visited the apartment. A bread knife was found on the person of Abukem, said the inspector.

A blood trail had led the police to Elfezqa's apartment in Triq is-Sidra, where officers observed a pool of blood in the living room.

During al-Araa's interrogation, he had told the police how, at around 8am that day, he had been asleep in the living room and Elfezqa had been asleep in his bedroom when a knock was heard at the door. Behind the door, he found Al Maghrbi and Abukem, carrying a knife and a metal pipe, with which Al Maghrbi had beaten Elfezqa.

Al-Araa had told the police that he and Elfezqa had been friends with the two other men and had no explanation for what happened. a strong smell of alcohol on the attackers. Elfezqa corroborated Al-Arara's version. He suggested that Al Maghrbi might have been injured with his own knife when Elfezqa twisted his arm.

But Abukem had provided the police different version of events. He had been in Paceville with Al Magharbi the night before. The men had made their way to the Swieqi flat were Abukem lived at “5 or 6 am.” When they reached Elfezqa's residence, he had emerged on the balcony and started arguing with Al Magharbi, inviting him to come in and fight him.Opening the door, Al Maragharbi had been stabbed instantly, he said. 

Abukem was adamant that they had not stepped foot inside the residence and had remained outside. He could not provide an exaplantion for the pool of blood in the sitting room, insisting to the policeman that they had not gone that far into the flat.

Yet another version was given by stabbing victim Al Maghrbi, said the inspector, who said that he had been stabbed a second time, by al-Araa.
The inspector added that a medical examination had confirmed that he only suffered one stab wound.
Inspector Elton Taliana, also testified today, corroborating this version and adding that a knife was found tucked into Abukem's sock during his arrest.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi, Martin Fenech and Giannella de Marco are legal counsel to the men.