Sufficient grounds for trial in Hugo Chetcuti murder case, court rules

Court confirms that Bojan Cmelik, who is accused of Hugo Chetcuti's murder, changed his name from Bojan Mitic before leaving Serbia • Court confirms Chetcuti died on the operating table while a temporary pacemaker was being fitted 

 

Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for the man accused of murdering Hugo Chetcuti to stand trail. 

During today’s compilation of evidence, Inspector Nikolai Sant confirmed that according to Serbian authorities,  Bojan Cmelik changed his surname from Mitic before leaving Serbia.

According to previous media reports, Mitic had changed his name after he spent time in jail in Serbia for armed robbery.

Mitic confirmed his time in jail when speaking to court expert Mario Scerri, a medical doctor, who examined him after the incident. Scerri said that when asked about self-inflicted scars on his abdomen, Mitic said he had done them when he was in jail.

It also emerged that before the incident, Mitic was working for Chetucti at Bacco’s and Hugo’s Terrace. He was fired once for failing to turn up to work but was rehired. He was fired again because of conflicts with his co-workers.

The lawyer representing the Chetcuti family, Joe Giglio, had previously stated on Facebook that Mitic had been fired because he was caught drunk on the workplace.

Hugo Chetcuti’s condition before his death

Scerri also examined Chetcuti before and after his death, and was present for his autopsy.

During the sitting, Scerri said that Hugo’s stab wound was a V shape, which meant that the blade was inserted and twisted before it was pulled out in a different direction.

Scerri also confirmed that the wound was compatible with the weapon found on the accused.

The doctor explained how Hugo’s condition was stabilizing before he passed away. The morning after the attack, Hugo was stable and getting better. There was also talk of him being moved to St James Capua Hospital. All of a sudden, his vital signs deteriorated. Chetcuti’s blood pressure started going down and he started showing signs of sepsis, a complication from an infection.

During the second operation, another puncture wound was detected. The two stab wounds caused three internal injuries. The third internal injury allowed fluid to come out of the intestines which caused peritonitis before it could be detected.

Chetcuti died six days later on the operating table while a temporary pacemaker was being fitted.

DNA analysis of the accused’s knife

Marisa Cassar, who conducted DNA analysis after the incident, said during the hearing that mixed DNA profiles emerged from the knife found on the accused. DNA was taken from clothes samples from the accused and Hugo, and the knife.

One profile matched that which was found on Mitic's clothing, the second profile matched samples form Chetcuti’s clothing, while a third profile possibly belonging to a third party was also detected.

Court hearing on CCTV footage

14:15 The case is adjourned and will return on 10 September. Maria Pace
14:13 The court has ruled that at this stage of the proceedings and from the evidence produced so far, there was sufficient grounds for the trial of the accused on indictment. Maria Pace
13:56 Giglio asked if the court was going to give a prima facie decree. A prima facie decree would mean there is sufficient evidence at first glance to ask the Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment, which is the first step towards a jury trial. Maria Pace
13:53 Defence Lawyer Ishmael Psaila cross examined. He asked the witness why no official from the homicide squad was present during these sittings. The court did not allow allow the question. When Lawyer Joe Giglio asked the witness the same question, Sant said it was because he was investigating the case. Maria Pace
13:49 Cmelik was employed at Bacco’s and Hugo’s Terrace. He was fired once for failing to turn up for work. He was later rehired but fired again due to his character. Sant said he had some conflicts with his co-workers. Maria Pace
13:48 From investigations, Sant confirms that Cmelik was residing with his brother in Pieta. His mobile phone and passport were taken for analysis. Maria Pace
13:38 After speaking to his lawyer, Cmelik opted not to answer any questions during any police questioning. Maria Pace
13:37 Cmelik told Sant that the keys were to his house in Serbia. The accused had told police that he was living on the streets. Maria Pace
13:35 While searching the suspect, police found a knife in a chest holster. The knife had a black handle and was around 19cm long. Two keys were also found on the suspect, which the inspector exhibited in court today. Maria Pace
13:33 While apprehending the suspect, three police officers sustained slight injuries. The medical certificates for these officers were exhibited. Maria Pace
13:32 The suspect was described as tall, wearing a dark blue shit, a yellow hat and light coloured shorts. Officers tracked down the suspect near surfside, but he refused to obey police and ran. He was later arrested in St. Helen’s street using a taser gun, as previously reported during the last court hearing. Maria Pace
13:30 Sant recounts that Hugo’s brother said that at around 10:30pm, a person pretended to hug Hugo and then stabbed him with a knife he was holding behind his back. Maria Pace
13:30 Inspector Nikolai Sant takes the witness stand next. He says that police had been informed that a stabbing occurred near the Hugo’s Boutique Hotel. Maria Pace
13:29 Inspector David Camilleri takes the stand. He confirms that the aggressor was arrested in Sliema near Balluta, and that Cmelik was living with his brother at the time. Maria Pace
13:16 The court observed that all the proceedings are public but the records of the proceedings and exhibits presented by witnesses are by law only available to the court, the prosecution and the defence and parte civile, “hence, the CCTV footage is illegal”. “All the media with immediate effect is to remove the CCTV footage of the incident and any other exhibits or record of this proceedings from their websites, including broadcasting and online portals.” Maria Pace
13:13 The parties made a joint submission during the hearing, saying they would "appreciate if court documents would remain part of the proceedings and, especially on behalf of the family, would appreciate if such sensitive moments are not circulated to the media out of respect to a mourning family." Maria Pace
13:11 "This is annoying and illegal" said Giglio Maria Pace
13:11 The court has been informed that CCTV footage of the murder has been broadcast by the media. Maria Pace
13:10 A court expert took buccal swabs of the accused, while it was decided that another DNA sample from the excised part of Chetcuti’s colon would also be obtained for comparison. Maria Pace
13:08 One profile matched that which was found on Cmelik’s clothing, the second profile matched samples form Chetcuti’s clothing, while a third profile possibly belonging to a third party was also detected. Maria Pace
13:06 Cassar explained that DNA was taken from clothes samples and the knife. From the knife handle, she said that a mixed DNA profile emerged. Maria Pace
12:42 Dr Marisa Cassar takes the stand. She conducted DNA analysis. Maria Pace
12:41 The court is observing that the reports are in Maltese whilst the proceedings are in English. This is because the inquiring magistrate was not requested to hear evidence in English. However this means that translations will be required. Maria Pace
12:35 The officers said no fingerprints were found on the knife holster which the accused was carrying. Maria Pace
12:22 Two officers from the Forensic Section of the police took the stand. They exhibit crime scene photos. They had taken swabs from the accused and took his clothes for analysis. They did the same to Chetcuti and made a photographic record of his autopsy. Maria Pace
12:17 Scerri confirmed that Hugo’s urine was negative to all drugs. Dr Mario Scerri finished testifying. Maria Pace
12:14 Hugo died on the operating table while a temporary pacemaker was being fitted. Maria Pace
12:14 During the second operation, another puncture wound was detected. The two stab wounds caused three internal injuries. The third internal injury caused fluid to come out of the intestines and caused peritonitis before it could be detected. Maria Pace
12:06 When asked to clarify, Scerri said Hugo was getting better and there was talk of him being moved to St James Capua Hospital. All of a sudden, Scerri said his vital signs deteriorated. Surgeons had to resect Hugo’s bowel, which meant they had to remove a damaged part and sew the ends together. Maria Pace
12:05 Scerri said that Hugo was stable on the morning after the attack, and had perforations in the small bowel. By that evening, Scerri said his blood pressure started going down and he started getting sepsis. Maria Pace
12:04 Scerri goes on to explain Hugo Chetcuti’s examination. Scerri said Hugo’s stab wound was a V shape, which meant the blade was inserted and twisted before being pulled out in a different direction. The wound, Scerri said, was compatible with the weapon found on the accused. Maria Pace
12:02 Scerri says Cmelik had a bruise above his eyes and some scratches. Old scars on his abdomen seemed to be self-inflicted. According to Scerri, Cmelik said he had done them to himself when he was in jail. Maria Pace
11:59 Another court expect, Dr. Mario Scerri takes the stand. Scerri examined Chetcuti in hospital before and after his death and was also present at his autopsy. Scerri also examined the accused. Maria Pace
11:56 Bajada says the Cmelik’s mobile phone was also examined, presenting his report on the device to the court. Maria Pace
11:55 Cmelik sits impassively in the dock. Maria Pace
11:51 Giglio is asking about how he collected the footage. Bajada explains he had gone with a police inspector to the area and observed which CCTV cameras were operating in the area before collecting them. Maria Pace
11:50 In CCTV footage from Bar Native, the suspect can be seen going up the St Rita Steps in Paceville. Hugo is sitting with his back to the camera. The accused can be seen holding his knife behind his back right before the murder. He makes contact with Hugo, and runs off up the stairs. Maria Pace
11:43 Court expert Martin Bajada takes the stand. He was appointed to collect and analyse CCTV footage of the night of the incident. He presents his report. Maria Pace
11:32 Court expert Joseph Mallia has been appointed to take the finger and palm prints of the accused and is taking them now. Maria Pace
11:32 Inspector Nikolai Sant is prosecuting. Lawyer Joe Giglio is parte civile for Hugo Chetcuti. Maria Pace
11:31 Security is tight in the courtroom today. Three armed officers stand around the accused. Maria Pace
11:31 Bojan has been walked into the courtroom, accompanied by his lawyer Ishmael Psaila. He nods towards the magistrate as he walks in. Maria Pace
11:29 Good morning! We'll be liveblogging today's compilation of evidence. Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia will be presiding today's sitting. Maria Pace

During the hearing, court expert Martin Bajada showed CCTV from the night of the incident. The footage shows Mitic walking up the Paceville Steps towards Hugo. He is seen wearing a hat and holding a knife behind his back. Mitic made contact with Hugo, before running off. People were seeing running after the accused. 

The CCTV made rounds on social media and news sites during the hearing. When the court was informed of this, both parties made a joint submission for the footage to be taken down. 

The court observed that all the proceedings are public but the records of the proceedings and exhibits presented by witnesses are by law only available to the court, the prosecution and the defence and parte civile, “hence, the CCTV footage is illegal”. “All the media with immediate effect is to remove the CCTV footage of the incident and any other exhibits or record of this proceedings from their websites, including broadcasting and online portals.” 

In the last sitting, the court heard the testimony of Hugo’s brother Isaac Chetcuti, his bodyguard James Farrugia, as well as a number of police officers who described how they tracked down, and eventually arrested Mitic.

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