Victim’s father concerned about his family’s safety following bail

Zahra echoed the concerns voiced by Mario Camilleri’s wife, Mona Camilleri, who said she fears for her life and that of her eight-month-old daughter.

Matthew Zahra
Matthew Zahra

Vincent Zahra, the father of Valletta taxi driver Matthew Zahra, who was murdered in 2012, has expressed disappointment and fear following a court’s decision to grant bail to Jason Galea and Ronald Urry, the two men charged with the murder of his son.

Galea and Urry were granted bail against a deposit of €30,000 and a personal guarantee of €30,000 each. 

Galea, 39, of Birzebbugia, was also granted bail for his part in the double murder of 51-year-old Mario Camilleri ‘l-Imniehru’ and his 21-year-old son, Mario Jnr.

Zahra was reported missing in August, 2012 but his remains were only discovered in August 2013, in the same field where the bodies of Mario Camilleri and his son Mario were found in a shallow grave. Investigators unearthed a bag of bones, purportedly belonging to Zahra, as they collected evidence from the Qajjenza field where the murders are alleged to have taken place.

In comments to MaltaToday, Zahra’s father argued that the court “was wrong in granting bail to two serial killers,” adding that his family was now “very vigilant.”

“We have not taken any additional precautions because we have done nothing wrong, however since these two men have been granted bail you can never tell… anything can happen and we are being very vigilant.”

To date, neither the prosecution nor court experts have confirmed that the bones are actually Zahra’s. Taking this into account, the court granted bail arguing that proceedings against Jason Galea – Mario Camilleri’s brother-in-law – have been ongoing for a year, during which the prosecution failed to identify the body remains.

Zahra echoed the concerns voiced by Mario Camilleri’s wife, Mona Camilleri, who said she fears for her life and that of her eight-month-old daughter. She has called on the authorities to step up the protection offered to victims of crime and their families.

The same concerns are shared by the majority of respondents in MaltaToday’s latest online poll. 83% of the 2,776 respondents disagreed with the controversial court decision to grant bail to Jason Galea and George Galea, the men accused of committing the Camilleri murders.

2,229 respondents said that Galea – accused of three murders – should not have been granted bail 12 months after the crimes took place. 7% agreed with the court decision, on the condition that the men are kept under house arrest, while 3% said that since the main witnesses were heard, the two men should not be deprived of their freedom until the trial takes place.

Another 7% declared that they didn’t care about the case.

The controversial bail was strongly opposed by the Attorney General who because of the serious nature of the offence, and due to fear of absconding and relapsing. Senior police officials claimed the decision to grant bail to Jason Galea might endanger the life of his own sister, Mario Camilleri’s wife Mona, after the latter had told the court that Jason Galea wanted to murder her as well, in a bid to clear his debts to the family.

The AG’s appeal was dismissed by the Criminal Court of Appeal which noted that the main witnesses had been heard, and that only court-appointed experts and police have yet to be summoned to the case. The accused remained in prison because they were unable to produce the bail money. 

Jason Galea is accused of shooting Mario Camilleri Snr twice in the head before driving off to a field in Tal-Qajjenza, limits of Birzebbugia. The corpse of Camilleri was then lowered into a shallow grave that had already been dug out in the field. Moments later, Camilleri’s son, Mario Jnr, arrived on the scene, having been dropped off by another man. 

At that point, George Galea took the 21-year-old by the throat while Jason Galea started hitting him with a loose tile. Jason Galea is accused of having stabbed his nephew repeatedly, finishing him off with two shots.