Enough evidence for soldiers accused of drive-by murder to be indicted

Lorin Scicluna and Francesco Fenech stand accused of having killed Lassana Cisse Souleymane last April

The true horror of the actions of two men accused of Malta's first racist murder emerged in court today as a court heard how a group of Maltese men had shot three immigrants - one in the groin, one in the buttocks and one in the head - for sport.

The compilation of evidence against the two men accused of the cold-blooded murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane in a drive-by shooting last month continued today with the court hearing the testimony of inspector Keith Arnaud, as well as three other members of the police force.

A friend of the two accused also took the witness stand, and offered a glimpse into the two men and their behaviour.

Lorin Scicluna, 22, and Francesco Fenech, 21, were arrested just over a week ago after Scicluna’s car was identified by the police from CCTV footage taken on the night.  

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

The two young men, both AFM soldiers, were suspended from their duties following a special order by President George Vella.

During today’s sitting Arnaud explained how the police had come to identify Scicluna’s car from CCTV footage taken from the area.

In addition to Souleymane’s murder, the two men have also been charged with the attempted murder of another man who they allegedly run over on the same road.

The court also heard the testimony of Jason Green, a friend of the accused who had been in the car with them during an incident in which they destroyed a migrant’s bicycle.

Green said he had known Scicluna for about three years and Fenech for a few months.

He said that the two both didn’t like migrants because they believed that they were “taking over the country”.

Green recounted how they were driving through the Hal Far road when they insulted a migrant riding a bicycle.

Asked why they had insulted the man, given that they didn’t know him, Green replied that they did it to “pick on him”.

READ MORE: AFM soldiers to be charged with Ivorian’s cold-blooded murder, PM: ‘Strong signal to those who spread hate’

The man had chased them on his bike, before they got out of the car and confronted him. It was at this point that the man fled, and the three men destroyed his bicycle.

Police officers who were dispatched to the scene of the crime described finding Souleymane’s lifeless body on the ground as well as the two other men that had been shot by the accused.  

12:05 That's it for today. The court has found enough evidence for the men to be indicted. The case will continue on the 3 July at 930am. Paul Cocks
11:51 The injured men told the police that a white car with some youths in it had passed them and fired at them, he said. Paul Cocks
11:51 “We found a man lying in the road with headphones in his ear still playing music. His eyes were half-open,” he tells the court, adding that the man was unresponsive. An ambulance was called. Paul Cocks
11:50 He had also encountered a man with blood on his trousers, crying in pain, saying he had been shot in the genitals as well as another who had been shot in the buttocks. Paul Cocks
11:48 He gives a similar account to the previous witness. Paul Cocks
11:48 The last witness, another police constable, now takes the stand. Paul Cocks
11:47 The only car that had driven from Hal Far in the direction of Birzebbuga, as the victims had told her, had been caught on CCTV, she said. Paul Cocks
11:47 A number of spent cartridges were found on the ground in the area, she said. Paul Cocks
11:41 The man shot in the buttocks, Ibrahim Abah, told the police that he had been walking with some friend to Hal Far when a black car passed them and shot him. Paul Cocks
11:40 A third man who was wearing a hoodie was unresponsive. Paul Cocks
11:39 Further up the road they met another man who said he had been shot in the buttocks. Paul Cocks
11:39 She was also called to the scene of the crime on the night of the incident. On the way there she ecountered a man with blood on his jeans who said he had been shot in the genitals by some Maltese men. Paul Cocks
11:38 Another constable, this time from the Birzebbuga police station, takes the witness stand. Paul Cocks
11:37 Magistrate Ian Farrugia has ordered that a number of individuals be summoned during the next sitting to declare that the body is no longer required for investigations. Paul Cocks
11:34 The court is now dealing with a request for the release of the victim's body. Paul Cocks
11:30 Later the Scicluna accompanied the police to his parents' house where he himself handed over his firearms and ammunition. They were underneath a bed on the upper floor. One of the weapons was a CZ 9mm, said the constable. Paul Cocks
11:29 It was taken to the police's forensic garage. Paul Cocks
11:29 Scicluna was then arrested during a route march, in front of his colleagues. He was taken to the Hal Far barracks where his car was found in the car park. Paul Cocks
11:28 A search was run to determine whether he had any weapons registered in his name. He did. Paul Cocks
11:27 The car belonged the Lorin Scicluna, who lived close to where the car was last seen. Paul Cocks
11:24 When the car was next seen, the missing side mirror had been replaced and stripes had been added to the side. Paul Cocks
11:23 The car was then spotted in Fgura, and several still photographs of the vehicle were taken. The police used these photographs to note any distinctive marks, in this case, the uneven brightness of the headlamps and the missing side mirror. Paul Cocks
11:22 A car matching the description was spotted driving fast along the road in question, Triq il-Gebel, at around the time of the murder. Paul Cocks
11:15 He was told that a white car was involved and immediately started collecting CCTV footage from the area. Paul Cocks
11:14 He had been dispatched to the scene by Arnaud and says that upon arrival "there was a body in the middle of the road". Paul Cocks
11:14 A constable from the homicide squad now takes the stand. Paul Cocks
11:14 He said they would use the Starlet to go hunting. Paul Cocks
11:13 He asks what car Fenech drove, to which Green replied: "A souped up Volkswagen Golf. He takes care of it." Paul Cocks
11:12 Scicluna's lawyer Franco Debono now cross-examines Green. Paul Cocks
11:11 She asks which of the two men had become his friend first. He replies it was Scicluna. They would go out in Scicluna's car, whe he would always drive. Paul Cocks
11:10 De Marco, Fenech's lawyer, now cross-examines Green. Paul Cocks
10:53 "They ran him over...there was only one person driving the car," she says. Paul Cocks
10:52 De Marco objects and insists that the questions being asked are too direct. Paul Cocks
10:51 Asked about the hit-and-run, the witness said he was not given any details. Paul Cocks
10:50 He said they left shortly after because it was getting late and he had his hunting shotgun in the car. Paul Cocks
10:50 Asked to clarify what he meant by the magistrate Green replies: "Coming into our country and throwing rocks at the Maltese." Paul Cocks
10:44 Arnaud asks Green what was said in the car after the incident. "How dare he throw stones and stuff like that," he said. Paul Cocks
10:40 Green says that Scicluna's number plates had been stolen some time before the incident and he had bought new ones and placed them on the windscreen before the incident. "I turned them around because they told me to do it," he says Paul Cocks
10:39 Arnaud is asking Green about the car's number plate. Paul Cocks
10:39 Green couldn't say why, as he was tending to the bicycle at the time. Paul Cocks
10:36 Green said he had been hit with a stone and that he had then put the man's bicycle against a wall, after jumping on it. Scicluna and Fenech kept walking towards him as he ran away. Paul Cocks
10:35 The man threw rocks at them whilst running away, leaving his bicycle behind. Paul Cocks
10:35 “I don’t know, sir,” he said. “Lorin decided to stop and see what he wanted.” Paul Cocks
10:34 Arnaud asks why they had decided to stop, rather than just driving off. Paul Cocks
10:34 “We shouted it at him and he started casing us on his bike looking angry,” Green said. “We stopped to see what was wrong and he got off the bike and starting throwing rocks at us.” Paul Cocks
10:34 They would go hunting near the barracks at Hal Safi, he said. “One time we had picked on a guy on his bike. He followed us and threw rocks at us.” Paul Cocks
10:32 "Just to pick on him," replied the witness Paul Cocks
10:32 Arnaud asks why they decided to insult the man, given that they did not know him. Paul Cocks
10:31 "It means fuck your father in Muslim," he said. Paul Cocks
10:30 Asked what the word was he said "kissabuk". It means "fuck your father," he said. Paul Cocks
10:30 "We said a word and he got angry and started following us. We got out to see what the problem was and he threw rocks at us whilst walking backwards," Green said. Paul Cocks
10:30 They would go hunting near the barracks at Hal Safi, he said. “One time we had picked on a guy on his bike. He followed us and threw rocks at us.” Paul Cocks
10:28 Fenech would say the same thing, he said, that there were too many migrants in Malta and that they were going to "invade us". Paul Cocks
10:28 Green said that Scicluna did not like migrants and that he believed the country was being overrun by them and would eventually end up with them in charge. Paul Cocks
10:26 Asked whether they seemed worried after running over the man, Green replies: "no they were normal..." Paul Cocks
10:26 Green deleted everything when he heard that the pair had been arrested. Paul Cocks
10:25 Green sent that Fenech had sent a photo of the broken windscreen to a group chat they had on WhatsApp. Paul Cocks
10:24 Asked if he was told why, how or any other details about the man being run over, the witness said that all he knew was that it had happened in Hal Far. Paul Cocks
10:24 Scicluna is speaking animatedly with his lawyer Franco Debono. Paul Cocks
10:23 “That the windscreen was broken. He said that they had run someone over and that he had broken the windscreen,” Green said. Paul Cocks
10:23 “I heard that the windscreen was broken. Francesco had told me,” he said. “Told you what?” asked the lawyer. Paul Cocks
10:19 He said he had "no idea" if the car was even damaged. When he pressed, he remembered: "ah, the windscreen" Paul Cocks
10:19 The witness says that Scicluna is a car and firearm enthusiast. Paul Cocks
10:18 He last saw it a month ago. “We’d go hunting together. Pembroke, Siggiewi, Hal Far…err not Hal Far, Hal Safi.” Paul Cocks
10:18 The witness says that Scicluna’s car is a Toyota Starlet. Paul Cocks
10:17 “I’ve known Lorin [Scicluna] for three years and Francesco [Fenech] I don’t know much, maybe a few months,” he said. “I became friends with Lorin through Playstation.” Paul Cocks
10:17 Green, a delivery man, said he knew Scicluna and Fenech, pointing both men out in court. Paul Cocks
10:14 The friend, who was in the car during the hit-and-run incident, takes the stand. He is warned that criminal proceedings may also be initiated against him. Paul Cocks
10:11 On the day of the bicycle incident, the two of the accused where joined in the car by a third person, a friend. Paul Cocks
10:08 The car involved in this incident was Scicluna's and he was driving it at the time. Paul Cocks
10:07 She now turns her questions to the hit and run incident. Paul Cocks
10:05 Scicluna was driving the car himself, Arnaud said in reply to a question by De Marco who suggested that the surviving migrants had said the shots came from the driver's side Paul Cocks
10:05 Arnaud said he had seen six casings in the road. Scicluna had confirmed that six or seven shots were fired. Paul Cocks
10:04 The pistol had an extended magazine, giving it an extra five rounds. The rounds are ejected to the right of the weapon and were found in the road, the inspector says. Paul Cocks
10:03 Fenech’s lawyer suggests that the pistol was a 9mm. Arnaud replies that the pistol was produced by the company SVT and was registered in Scicluna’s name. He had volunteered this information himself. Paul Cocks
10:01 She starts by asking the inspector whether the car in question was Scicluna’s property. “Yes,” replies the inspector. It was the same car Scicluna had attempted to alter the appearance of. Paul Cocks
09:52 Giannella de Marco, appearing for Fenech, is now starting her cross-examination. Paul Cocks
09:51 Arnaud is now presenting a DVD of the interrogation to the court. Paul Cocks
09:50 He said the cousin had deleted a photo of the smashed windscreen that he was sent, once he heard about the murder. Paul Cocks
09:48 The two soldiers are also accused of the attempted murder of another man, who they are accused of running over with the same car. Arnaud says that the two had seen the man, also a migrant, and run him straight over. Paul Cocks
09:46 Back to the bicycle incident, Arnaud says that the two had insulted the cyclist in Arabic, who threw stones at the car in return. Paul Cocks
09:43 Arnaud says the man had asked the cousin how to burst the barrel of a handgun, however he had refused because it was dangerous. Paul Cocks
09:42 The magistrate stops the witness and tells the mother of one of the accused to stand up and “stop laughing”. “Laughing? He’s my son,” protests the woman. Paul Cocks
09:41 The cousin had been questioned in the presence of both the accused. Paul Cocks
09:41 Arnaud says that the police had later spoken to Fenech’s cousin, who confirmed that he knew both of the accused. As regards the incident, he had assumed the worst because he said his cousin had started hanging out with a bad crowd. After hearing about the murder he had sent the accused an SMS in which he told him not to hang out with Scicluna anymore. Paul Cocks
09:39 He also denied shooting any cats, saying they would only shoot at pigeons. Paul Cocks
09:38 Fenech denied that his windscreen was broken when the man he had run over hit the car, insisting that the crack was the result of a collision with a centre strip. Paul Cocks
09:36 Arnaud said that Fenech’s version different from Scicluna’s in that he offered a different version of events regarding an incident in which the two are believed to have run over another man riding a bike in the same road. Paul Cocks
09:34 On the day he had gone to Hal Far but only to go through the town. Paul Cocks
09:34 He confirmed that he would often go and "tease" immigrants at Hal Far with Scicluna Paul Cocks
09:33 When he was asked whether he had any hatred towards migrants, Arnaud said that Fenech had said that he didn’t hate them but was against them coming to Malta Paul Cocks
09:33 He said that Fenech had told him that he and Scicluna would sometimes drive around in Scicluna’s Toyota Starlet but denied any knowledge of the murder. Paul Cocks
09:31 He starts by talking about Fenech’s interrogation. Fenech said he had come to know Lorin during the recruitment period when the two joined the army Paul Cocks
09:30 Inspector Keith Arnaud takes the stand once again to continue his testimony Paul Cocks
09:21 Good morning, we're back in court as the compilation of evidence against the three men accused of the cold-blooded murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane continues. Paul Cocks

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.

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