Four members of organised crime group behind robberies denied bail

Police believe criminals part of gang behind eight robberies in the north of Malta

The four men are believed to be part of a group responsible for at least eight robberies since May
The four men are believed to be part of a group responsible for at least eight robberies since May

Four men from Georgia were denied bail after being charged in court over their alleged involvement in two robberies. 

The court heard how the four men had been in Malta for a few months during which time they wired thousands of euros out of the country, mainly to Georgia. 

Ramazi Ashordia, aged 37, Giorgi Bujiashvili, 40, Gela Kharazishvili, 41, and Gabriel Jabushanuri, 48 – all of whom said were construction workers – were charged with being part of an organised crime network and participating in its criminal activities. They were also charged with being in possession of a number of stolen items. 

Ashordia and Bujiashvili were separately charged with over €2,000 worth of jewellery from a Balzan residence on the 29 August. 

Bujiashvili alone was charged with electronic equipment and jewellery from another residence in St Paul’s Bay. Jabushanuri was charged with aiding the accused in the robberies. 

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli heard inspector Lydon Zammit explain how the Balzan robber had left the house in a rented vehicle. This led police to the identity of the person who had rented the van, who was charged in court on Friday. 

During the police’s investigations, Zammit said the man who had rented the van said that he was with another person during the robbery, who also purchased the tools used in the robbery. It transpired that the man was Jabushanuri, who had been seen entering an apartment block in Bugibba. Neighbours confirmed with the police that the person had been seen entering two particular apartments along with other individuals on a number of occasions. 

The apartment was raided by the police and 11 people, including all four of the accused, were detained. 

Zammit said that several items, including jewellery, computer equipment, money and perfumes were found in the apartments, and that over the course of the investigation, the items were linked with eight robberies known to have taken place, including the Balzan robbery they were being charged with.

Zammit added that a number of items were found in the apartments which have not yet been traced to specific robberies.

The person charged yesterday, he said, had identified two of the men being charged today and admitted them to dropping them off at the Balzan residence on the night it was robbed.

The men had also been recognised by some of their victims.  

Zammit said the police had requested information on all transfers of money made by the accused and said that while not all requests had been answered so far, it appeared that thousands of Euro had been wired out of Malta. 

Responding to lawyer Joe Ellis, who represented the accused and questioned why the four were being charged with participation in organised crime, Zammit said the men themselves told the police they changed very often by staying in Malta for a short while. 

The defence did not contest the men’s arrest but requested bail insisting that there was no fear of them absconding since their passport could be taken away. The lawyer argued that since Georgia was not an EU country and wasn’t in the Schengen area, the men could not leave without a passport.

This was rejected by the prosecution however, which argued that the four men had no ties to Malta and had themselves said they already had a ticket home.

He noted that there had been similar cases in the past where bail was granted, resulting in the accused leaving Malta. Moreover, Zammit said that the men appeared to have no fixed residence and could tamper with evidence. 

Bail was denied because of the serious nature of the crimes, the fact that the accused had no ties to Malta and because there was no guarantee they would abide by the conditions laid down by the courts.

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