AUM contractor charged with attacking business partner at university site

A Jordanian building contractor working on the American University of Malta project has been charged with attacking and grievously injuring a business partner

Attempts to notify Karim Ahmad and arrest him at his office in Mqabba were rebuffed by employees and closed gates
Attempts to notify Karim Ahmad and arrest him at his office in Mqabba were rebuffed by employees and closed gates

A Jordanian building contractor working on the American University of Malta project has been charged with attacking and grievously injuring a business partner at the AUM site in Cospicua.

Before magistrate Astrid May Grima, Abdel Karim Ahmad, 42, from Jordan, residing in Attard was accused of attacking and grievously injuring another businessman, Bessam Abdulhamid, in an argument related to commissions allegedly owed to Abdulhamid in November last year.

Few details of the incident itself emerged during the three-hour sitting this afternoon, but the court was given a detailed account of how the man had allegedly avoided being served with his summons by the police in the year since the incident.

He was arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed an arrestable offence within the timeframe allowed at law, said Superintendent Jeffrey Azzopardi, prosecuting together with Inspector Eman Hayman. The reason why the man could not be traced for so long was that he lived at a different address from the Zabbar one listed on his ID card.

Attempts to notify him and arrest him at his office in Mqabba were rebuffed by employees and closed gates, he said. The police breakthrough came yesterday after they received information that he may be living in a residence in Attard, where he was eventually found and arrested.

Ahmad, who also uses the alias “Michael Costa”, was a building contractor owning Unique Turnkey Ltd, a company involved in the building of the AUM, the court was told.

Supt. Azzopardi said that the police had found a bleeding man in the midst of a commotion at the university site and a rabble of people wanting to give their version to the police. Their preliminary statements were taken and the accused had claimed to have been attacked, he said. “After that he disappeared.”

Inspector Eman Hayman took the stand, having been assigned the case in November from a colleague. He had tried to contact the accused, he said, adding that in his handover, he had seen the difficulties his predecessor had encountered.

Hayman, noting that the accused was the director of Unique Turnkey, had called there and his secretary, Charlene Gravina, had said that she had no idea where he is. The police inspector added that he was later informed that the two had a child together. The accused was eventually traced at an Attard property belonging to Gravina.

Answering questions from his lawyer Emmanuel Mallia, the Jordanian-born accused, told the court that “for a number of personal reasons, I am known as Michael Costa. I am the main contractor for many parts [of the AUM], in particular glazing.”

The accused had been spoken to at the time of the incident and had expressed concern that the victim had weapons. These were later seized by the police.

Ahmad said he had made several reports about Abdulhamid carrying weapons he said. “This man would carry a revolver in his coat and would show it off often.” Around 3 months later he was told by the police that the firearms had been seized.

Ahmad told the court that he’d been living in Attard for two and a half years, but hadn’t changed his ID card because “one, my villa in Attard isn’t fully ready and two, I’m planning on moving again to another villa which I’m building somewhere else.”

Mallia contested the validity of the man’s arrest, but after hearing lengthy submissions by both sides, the court ruled it to be valid.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail was requested.

The prosecution did not object to bail as long as the man was ordered to sign a bail book. The lawyer objected to this, saying that he could easily be notified at his workplace. But the prosecution argued that other courts had found him to be so problematic when it comes to notification that one had ordered a fixed point police guard outside one of his residences in a bid to catch him returning home.

Bail was granted against a deposit of €3,000 and a personal guarantee of €7,000. He was warned not to approach or contact any witnesses until the case was decided.

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