Lawyer claims 'ethnic tensions' behind beating that led to drug trafficking charges

Defence lawyer to Serbs facing trafficking charges claims beating of Albanian victim linked to ethnic tensions'

Lawyer Joe Giglio said that the beating of an Albanian man in Paceville exposed ethnic tensions being imported into Malta
Lawyer Joe Giglio said that the beating of an Albanian man in Paceville exposed ethnic tensions being imported into Malta

The beating of an Albanian man in Paceville on 10 March has laid bare the reality of ethnic tensions imported into Malta, a lawyer has told a court, as three men were arraigned on grievous injury and drugs charges.

The police made the arrests following a report of grievous injuries made on Sunday at St. Julian's Police Station by a 32-year-old Albanian man.

Police investigations eventually resulted in the arrest of two Serbian men on Wednesday: Nenad Anic, aged 39 of Mellieha and Nemanja Vicicevic, aged 31 of Msida.

After being arrested and searched the men reportedly found to be in possession of substances suspected to be cannabis grass, cocaine and a set of brass knuckles. 

This afternoon, Anic and Vicicevic were charged with grievously injuring the Albanian, attacking him, breaching the peace and working as security personnel without the necessary licence.

Anic alone was charged with possession of brass knuckles whilst Vucicevic alone was charged with possession of cannabis and cocaine in circumstances which denoted it was not for his personal use and within 100m of a club where youths gathered.

Lawyer Joe Giglio, appearing for Anic, informed the court presided by magistrate Charmaine Galea, that he would be contesting the case on the basis of identification.

The case “went deeper than a normal charge of bodily harm,” said the lawyer.

“This is the reality in Malta today. Tensions between Serbs and Albanians are spilling over into Paceville. I am informed that there is a group of Albanians who go around looking for trouble by provoking Serbs… St. Julian’s police station is now facing this reality.” 

Giglio requested bail for his client, who he said was a cleaner.

“This case relates to a report by an Albanian man claiming to have had an incident in Paceville on 10 March. He went to the police and was sent to hospital where he was found to be suffering from a fractured arm. Whilst I understand the necessity for arraigning under arrest, I think that in this case a balance can be created…on the 10 of March it was not felt that there was a need for the police to arrest the accused. This was a full day as the incident occurred at 1am. On 11, 12, March they felt there was no urgency to arrest the accused, who were arrested on 13 March at 10:30PM, almost a full 4 days after the incident. 

“If there was no urgency to arraign a person under arrest on the 11, 12, 13… is there a necessity to keep that person under arrest on the 15?”

Inspector Xerri countered, pointing out that the club in question had been closed for a number of days after the incident, which led to the delay in arraignment.

Furthermore, added the inspector, Anic could not be trusted as he had told the court that he was working as a cleaner but was in fact working as a bouncer.

Lawyer Christopher Chircop, appearing as legal aid for Vucicevic told the magistrate that his client had released a detailed statement to the police.

“There is no fear of him speaking with someone or tampering with evidence. If they had wanted to tamper, they had ample time to do that.”

The court acceded to the bail request made by Anic, but not Vucicevic’s due to the serious nature of the charges relating to drug trafficking. Anic man was ordered to sign a bail book twice weekly and provide a deposit of €500 as well as a personal guarantee of €5,000.

Third man arraigned on drugs charges

A police search of Vucicevic’s Msida residence on Thursday led to the police discovering substances suspected to be cannabis grass and cannabis resin.

Aleksandar Petrovski, a 42-year-old Macedonian who arrived at the residence while the police were there was also arrested after further searches on his person resulted in the finding of substances suspected to be cannabis grass, cannabis resin, cocaine and ecstasy.   

Petrovski, who has been in Malta for the past 13 years, was charged with trafficking and conspiracy to traffic cannabis and cocaine. He was also charged with the simple possession of ecstasy and with committing these crimes within 100m of a club frequented by youths.

The Macedonian pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At this stage, defence lawyer Joseph Giglio did not request bail.

The court imposed a freezing order over all Petrovski’s assets, allowing him access to only €13,000 of the frozen funds annually, as laid down by the law.

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