Murder jury | Key witness 'not credible' says defence

Defence lawyer says key witness was drunk during incident leading to death of Krstic Dragoljub in 2013

The lawyer defending Emil Atanasov against a murder charge attacked the credibility of a key prosecution witness, saying that the person testifying had himself said that he was drunk during the incident and appeared highly uncomfortable while testifying.

The Bulgarian national is claiming to have acted in self-defence when he fatally stabbed Krstic Dragoljub, a Serb, in 2013.

The key witness, Dani Krstski, was drunk at the time of the stabbing and was still hungover when he gave his jumbled statement, pointed out defence lawyer Malcolm Mifsud, as he made the defence's final submissions this morning.

Krstski had told the court that Dragolub and Macedonian Zoran Jocic had been leaving the flat when the accused had darted out. Moments later he heard a grunt. “The implication is clear: that my client attacked Dragolub for no reason whatsoever. But my client was not drunk at the time. Who are you going to believe? A person who, from his body language, was clearly uncomfortable testifying before you,or my client?”

“Krstski had said that all five of them had gone upstairs to the flat, but then how had the accused opened the door from the inside?” Mifsud asked. “Krtstki had said that they were drunk, but later said that they were 'not completely drunk.' Contrast this with my client, who was clear on what happened even during his interrogation, from day one. 'I was holding the knife, I didn't stab him' from day one. Contrast this with Krtstki's confused testimony, which was full of inconsistencies.”

The lawyer reconstructed the dynamics of the incident from the testimony of those present. “They lifted him [Atanasov] off the ground, like in the films and started punching him. This was the scene that [the accused's flatmate] Goran Manojlovski found.”

Mifsud painted a frightening picture of the night's events, from the point of view of the accused. “The men were so drunk and out of control...not only did they give him two beatings in his own home, but then they dragged him out. He [Dragolub] didn't realise that my client had the knife pointing at him when he started strangling him. The natural reaction of a person being strangled is to bend backwards, away from the assailant, who would then bend over him to maintain the pressure.”

The lawyer insisted that his client had been acting in self-defence, not out of a need for vengence.

He pointed to the accused's explanation that he had taken a crowbar and a knife to scare them in the hope they would go away. “He didn't have the luxury that the landlord had, of turning off the power,” Mifsud added. “Yes, the accused could have called the police, but the most they could do would be to tell them to stop making noise and then leave.”

Judge Antonio Mizzi presiding. Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia and lawyer Elaine Mercieca are prosecuting. Lawyer Malcolm Mifsud is defence counsel.