Soldier accused of Souleymane murder admitted he didn’t like black people

Francesco Fenech, the man believed to have pulled the trigger, threatened to shoot Scicluna too if he protested, Scicluna had told the police

Lorin Scicluna (left) and Francesco Fenech (right) were charged with the murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane
Lorin Scicluna (left) and Francesco Fenech (right) were charged with the murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane

Evidence against the two soldiers charged with the racially motivated murder of an Ivorian, Lassana Cisse Souleymane, was heard in court on Friday morning.

The court heard Inspector Arnaud as he presented the facts of the case. He told the court that Lorin Scicluna, one of the accused, had admitted to not liking black people and being aggressive towards them. Scicluna later admitted to the police that he had been present in the car as the other soldier, Francesco Fenech, pulled the trigger.

He had told the police that they had been looking for cats to kill near Hal Far before they came across Souleymane and Fenech pulled the trigger. Scicluna also told the police that Fenech had threatened to shoot him too if he protested.

The two later argued when Scicluna accused Fenech of doing "a stupid thing."

10:46 Thank you for following this live blog. The case continues on 28 May. David Hudson
10:46 Scicluna's relatives are seen hugging him in the court room before he is led out. David Hudson
10:41 The case continues on 28 May at 9am. David Hudson
10:41 The court suspended Arnaud's testimony. David Hudson
10:40 Scicluna had owned 1000 rounds of STV branded ammunition, which was used in the murder, shooting 250 of them at the range. After the perpetration of the crime, Scicluna threw them away into the sea and bought a different brand of ammunition. David Hudson
10:39 Most of the time, the migrants would not react to the men's abuse but on one occasion, a man had thrown rocks at the car and damaged it. He ran away on foot and the two soldiers had then smashed the man's abandoned bicycle. David Hudson
10:35 On one occasion, Fenech had run over a migrant and smashed the windscreen with his body. David Hudson
10:34 The two would often go to Hal Far with the express purpose of intimidating migrants or provoking them to fight. David Hudson
10:31 They had argued after Lorin accused Francesco of doing "a stupid thing." David Hudson
10:31 Francesco had threatened to shoot Lorin too if he protested, Lorin had said. David Hudson
10:30 There were two other migrants walking and Francesco had fired four shots at them. David Hudson
10:30 The first missed but the second hit the victim. David Hudson
10:29 They saw Souleymane walking. Francesco leaned out of the window and fired two shots at the man. David Hudson
10:29 Francesco suggested they go to Hal Far David Hudson
10:29 Near Hal Far Barracks, they had looked for a cat but didn't find any. David Hudson
10:28 Scicluna had loaded two magazines with ammunition and took off the car's numberplate. David Hudson
10:28 They had previously killed cats and birds with his air rifle and had decided to try using a firearm to see what the damage would look like David Hudson
10:27 In his second statement to the police, Scicluna admitted that he had lied to the police about renting out the car to a Libyan man and said that he had driven to the scene of the crime with his friend and army colleague, Francesco Fenech David Hudson
10:23 When the police said that this made no sense, Scicluna finally confessed to being present in the car when Souleymane was killed by Fenech. David Hudson
10:23 This, he said, happened after having heard of the Birzebbuga shooting on the news. David Hudson
10:22 Another time, he was offered €2,000 by the same man to use his car again. On that day, Scicluna had been to the rang and had left his loaded weapon in the back of the car, he claimed. When the car was returned, Scicluna found two missing rounds. David Hudson
10:21 Scicluna mentions one episode where he had once been offered €1,000 by a Libyan man who wanted to use his car. The car returned with a smashed windscreen and the Libyan had offered €500 for it to be fixed. David Hudson
10:19 Scicluna denied any involvement in the murder but confirmed that he didn't like black people and would act aggressively towards them when they looked at him David Hudson
10:15 Inspector Arnaud said that Scicluna was a mechanic with the AFM with no contact with migrants. David Hudson
10:15 Analysis of Scicluna's mobile phone location data placed the two young soldiers together in Fgura and Paola. David Hudson
10:12 The girlfriend said that Francesco Fenech shared similar views. David Hudson
10:12 He was often aggressive towards black men who looked at him. David Hudson
10:12 Asked what her boyfriend's views on immigrants were, she said he didn't like them much because "they come to Malta and expect to rule it themselves." David Hudson
10:11 She said the mirror was recently fixed but could not recall any stripes on the car. David Hudson
10:10 Scicluna's girlfriend was also spoken to. He worked part-time in a pastizzeria on the weekends, she told the police. His best friend was Francesco Fenech, the one accused of pulling the trigger, and they were in constant contact. David Hudson
10:08 A number of rounds of ammunition were also recovered from the young man's house but these were of a different kind to that used in the murder. David Hudson
10:08 Scicluna was arrested on 17 May by Arnaud himself. The weapons, including the CZ P10 were recovered from under his bed. David Hudson
10:07 Inspector Arnaud is exhibiting a number of photographs of the vehicle gathered from CCTV footage before the murder, showing the missing registration plates and the distinctive marks David Hudson
10:06 Police background checks on Lorin Scicluna returned four firearms registered in his name, including a CZ 9mm, which was seized for ballistics testing. David Hudson
10:05 After the murder, Arnaud said that some features had been added to the car: the mirror was reinstalled, a dark stripe was put on the side of the car, a sticker was added. "A quick fix to alter the appearance of the car," Inspector Arnaud said. David Hudson
10:01 But they finally matched the details to a car registered in the same of Lorin Scicluna, the 22-year-old, who lived in Paola. David Hudson
10:01 Investigators raced against time, fearing that the car would be burnt in an effort to wipe out any evidence. David Hudson
10:00 Over 55 CCTV systems were examined and this led the police to create a timeline of the car's movements. David Hudson
09:59 The car was identified later out of 300 cars in Malta of the same type through a missing mirror and very bright headlights. The car had no license plates. David Hudson
09:58 The car was last spotted on Triq is-Sorijiet in Paola. David Hudson
09:58 The car then drove through a one way road to Birzebbuga near an al fresco restaurant. It drove towards Ghar Dalam and Bir id-Deheb and headed for Barrani road. David Hudson
09:57 The car went down Triq il-Gebel where the murder took place. Arnaud explains that the CCTV trailed the car to Triq iz-Zurrieq. David Hudson
09:56 "First Cisse walked down, then the car, then 20 seconds later two migrants appeared. They were seen suddenly turning their heads together as if someone had called for them." David Hudson
09:55 Inspector Arnaud said that no other cars drove down in that same direction before the time of the murder. David Hudson
09:55 CCTV footage reveals that the only car that passed by Souleymane on that night was a Toyota Starlet. David Hudson
09:54 The police did a background check with the foreign authorities. They found that the victims did not have any criminal backgrounds. David Hudson
09:54 The victim might have been heading home on the fateful night as he seemed to be walking in that direction. He had been carrying identification documents with him. The autopsy revealed that the fatal bullet was in his left temple. David Hudson
09:53 The other was hit in the pelvis and the bullet was lodged in the right side of the pelvic bone. He had to be operated upon that very night David Hudson
09:53 One of the injured migrants was hit in the buttocks and the bullet exited the body David Hudson
09:52 The driver was young, dark and had a small moustache or goatee David Hudson
09:52 One the injured migrants identified the persons in the car as "white skinned" David Hudson
09:49 "They believed Malta to be a safe place. That’s what made them come to Malta." David Hudson
09:49 "Suddenly a car drove by, slowed down. They heard two shots, then another two. One of them said it was a small white car. The shots came from driver’s side," Inspector Arnaud tells the court. David Hudson
09:48 The injured migrants had moved to Malta from Italy work. On the fateful night they had gone to watch a Spanish league match in Birżebbuġa and were on their way home. They told police they did not know the victim. David Hudson
09:43 It was an Ecabs driver and a female driver who had spotted the bodies and called for help. Migrants immediately informed the police of the drive-by shooting. David Hudson
09:43 A corpse was covered with a white sheet. Blood was trickling out into the road with two 9mm cartridges found close to the corpse. There were two crime scenes close to each other: two other migrants had been injured. Four other cartridges were found on site. David Hudson
09:42 Inspector Keith Arnaud takes the witness stand. He says on April 6 he was informed around 11.10pm of a shooting in Triq il-Ġebel, Ħal Far. It is the road which leads from the Jobs Plus headquarters to Birżebbuġa David Hudson
09:42 Relatives of the accused gather in the court room, followed by the two suspects David Hudson

Francesco Fenech, 21, and Lorin Scicluna, 22, stand accused of having killed Lassana Cisse in a drive-by shooting in Birżebbuġa last April. They deny the charges of what is believed to be Malta's first racially-motivated murder. 

Fenech is believed to have pulled the trigger on 42-year-old Souleymane while Scicluna drove the vehicle. Two other migrants were also injured in the drive-by shooting. They are also being charged with another hit-and-run involving another migrant.

The two soldiers were suspended from their duties following a special order by President George Vella. An internal inquiry is ongoing. 

Lawyer Giannella de Marco is appearing for Francesco Fenech while Kris Busietta, Julian Farrugia and Franco Debono appear for Lorin Scicluna. Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Trevor Micallef are prosecuting. Arthur Azzopardi is parte civile for the victim’s family.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia is presiding.