[WATCH] Abner Aquilina was never a follower of River of Love, pastor Gordon Manche insists

Manche says he is ready to meet Aquilina and his family personally, describing him as a 'puppet of the devil'

River of Love pastor Gordon Manche
River of Love pastor Gordon Manche

Murder suspect Abner Aquilina was not an adherent to River of Love’s teachings, its senior pastor Gordon Manche insisted, adding that Aquilina had only attended one service.

In a sermon delivered on Wednesday, Manche said that Aquilina needs proper help after he was arrested with the rape and murder of Paulina Dembska.

“Abner needs serious help, he needs freedom from the grip of devils,” he said.

He urged the Prime Minister and those who work in justice and courts to give Aquilina the help he needs to “free himself of the devil”.

Manche added that he believes Aquilina is a “puppet of the devil”, even offering to meet with Aquilina.

He said that he tried to reach out to Aquilina’s parents, having asked the police to put him in touch, but the police did not give him permission to do so.

“Abner has been seen by several doctors and psychiatrists, but if someone is possessed by the devil, then the case is not only psychiatric but psychological, diabolical,” he said.

He also lashed out at the media for trying to portray River of Love in a bad light, dubbing certain reporters "ġurnalisti tal-bigilla".

Manche is the head paster of the evangelical Christian group River of Love, which found itself in controversy after Aquilina attended a River of Love service on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day he raped and murdered Paulina Dembska, a student visiting Malta from Poland. She was attacked by Aquilina while tending to a cat colony at the Sliema Independence Gardens.

The night before the attack, Aquilina had slept over at a friend’s house. This friend, Derek Spiteri, attended River of Love services regularly.

In court this week, Aquilina’s lawyer Mario Mifsud claimed that Spiteri had slipped his client some alcohol and a sleeping pill before trying to sexually abuse him. Spiteri denied this strongly in court.

Manche clarified that Aquilina was not a regular attendee at River of Love services, having only attended one service on New Year’s Eve. He had arrived late and left early.