Man pleads not guilty to theft aggravated by violence, cocaine possession

Ramzi Abdulhafid Ib Abukem, 35, was accused of committing aggravated theft, as well as other charges

A Libyan national was today arraigned before magistrate Gabriella Vella accused of having, on 27 October, committed theft aggravated by violence to a victim's detriment, and having confined the victim against his will.

Ramzi Abdulhafid Ib Abukem, 35, resident of St Paul’s Bay, was also accused of having been caught in possession of cocaine and of breaching his bail conditions, on 10 December at around 4am in St Paul’s Bay.

The court heard how on 10 December, the police received a report of a fight at a bar in St Paul’s Bay. By the time the police arrived, the perpetrators had left the building.

However, the accused, who was known to police, was found inside the bar and was noticed to have been breaking his court imposed curfew. 

He was then searched and found to be holding drugs in a bag in his mouth.

He was arrested and also questioned about a theft he was involved in, on 27 October.

Following the 27 October theft, the accused was arrested and later taken to Mount Carmel Hospital, as it was determined that he had ingested pills.

He was arrested again on 10 December, both in connection with the previous theft and for being in breach of his bail conditions.

The accused pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution objected to the defence’s request for bail, given that he was in breach of bail conditions, that there were civilians still needing to testify and due to the gravity of the charges.

The defence, in turn, argued that theft with violence did not constitute an automatic reason to deny bail. 

It also said that since the theft allegedly took place on 27 October, if the accused had to abscond, he would have already done so.

With regards to the 10 December charge, the defence argued that this was for simple possession and would not have even resulted in an arraignment before a magistrate, but instead before a tribunal for contraventions, had there not also been the previous crime of theft.

The breach of bail would only result if the accused was found guilty of the crime of theft, it argued, and it was thus not reasonable to prolong the arrest of the accused.

The prosecution made the argument that the man was a foreigner without fixed ties to the island.

The defence said the accused was benefitting from full refugee status, and had come to Malta to benefit from protection. There was therefore no reason why he would flee to Libya.

He had also been living at the same fixed address for a number of years.

After hearing the submissions for the request for bail, the court deemed that the accused did not give sufficient guarantees to ensure that he would effectively observe the bail conditions which would be imposed on him, and therefore at this stage of proceedings it was rejecting the request for bail.

In view of the fact that it transpired during the hearing that the accused was admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital a number of times, the court recommended that the prison authorities ensure that the accused be duly examined by a psychiatrist in order to determine whether the accused should be detained at the hospital and not in prison during the period of preventive arrest.

The case continues.

Dr Kathleen Grima was legal counsel.

Inspectors Matthew Spagnol and Nicholas Vella prosecuted.

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