Kitchen help remanded in psychiatric custody after being accused of theft

Although not dismissed from his job, the 31-year-old kitchen helper has been charged with committing theft at the restaurant he works at, and from a fellow employee

A 31-year-old man has been remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to charges of having stolen money from the restaurant he works at. 

Michael Wubshet Bekele, from Ethiopia but living in St Julian’s, and who works at the Genki Asian Café as a kitchen helper, was accused of having committed theft of money from the same restaurant - which is situated within the Carob Tree food court - as well as having stolen money from a fellow employee at Genki Asian Café.

Since the man’s actions in breach of the same law were several in number and happened through a period of time, the man was also charged with having committed a continuous offence.

The prosecution objected to the defence’s request for bail, in light of the fact that witnesses were still to give testimony in court, and there was the risk that the accused could influence them beforehand. Moreover, the accused was still working at the same St Julian’s food court, where the witness in the case also works.

If the accused not be granted bail, however, the prosecution asked that the court recommend that that the accused be given all the mental care he required, and be placed in an institution which could help him in this regard.

The defence, however, told the court that the accused had no previous history of wrongdoing in Malta, and although he was foreign, had connections to the island since his wife and young child also live here.

It was very strange, the defence said, that the accused was not dismissed from his job. This showed the employer trusted him. In addition, since it was the victim himself who still had to testify, it was very unlikely that the accused would influence his testimony.

The court, after having heard the arguments of both sides, said that, at this stage, it was not satisfied that should the accused be granted bail, he would satisfy the conditions imposed on him.

Considering this, and also taking into account the fact that there were still witnesses who had to give testimony, the court denied bail.

It recommended that the accused be held at Mount Carmel Hospital, for the duration of his arrest, due to the fact that he is currently undergoing medical treatment under the care of a psychiatrist.

Inspector Leroy Balzan Engerer prosecuted. Lawyer David Camilleri was legal aid for the accused. Magistrate Astrid May Grima presided.