Trial by jury | Stabbing victim grabbed axe while holding guts in with other hand

Defence of man standing trial by jury claims stab victim’s story is “one big lie” and incredulous

The defence lawyer for a man charged with the attempted murder of his drug buddy four years ago, claimed the victim’s story “was one big lie” and that it was incredulous how the victim managed to smash a motorcycle with an axe while holding in his guts after having being stabbed.

The remark was made this afternoon in the trial by jury of 35-year-old Noel Farrugia, known as Il-Giza, who stands accused of the attempted murder of Omar Faiz El Sallak.

Summoned to testify against his aggressor, El Sallak told the court that after being stabbed in the stomach, he went to his car, holding in his guts, and then managed to grab an axe to smash the accused’s motorcycle into pieces.

He said that on July 22, 2010, he and accused Paul Zammit, his girlfriend and their one-and-a-half year old daughter, were in a Marsa apartment. “We had about ten grams of cocaine. Noel was cooking cocaine, while me, Noel’s girlfriend and Pawlu l-Iswed [Paul Zammit] were sitting around a table smoking cocaine. After a while, I told him that I am going home, and as soon as I went to the door, I felt a sting to my stomach. I turned around to see what had happened, and Noel pushed me and I fell down the stairs before telling me ‘Allah hu Akbar’,” he said.

The knife was never found.

El Sallak said that even though the stabbing left him physically holding in his guts, he managed to make his way to his car and grab an axe from under the driver seat – a sequence of events in which the defence highlighted the witness’s “lies.”

Asked what could have triggered the attack, El Sallak insisted that he was up to this day, at odds as to why his “friend” had stabbed him. “We were friends and we used to even sleep at each other’s house. We were not involved in any argument; I do not know what got into him.”

“I was holding in my bowels to prevent them from spilling out of my wound and losing a lot of blood. I crossed the street, collapsed and then Paul came running out and took me to hospital,” he said.

Cross-examined by the defence, the witness however argued that he went to hospital after he destroyed the accused’s motorcycle. “I made my way to my car, grabbed an axe which was hidden under the driver’s seat but found the common door closed. I destroyed Noel’s motorcycle, and then I started trembling, before Paul drove to me hospital,” he said.

Poking holes at the El Sallak’s testimony, the defence said it was hard to believe how a man who was physically holding in his guts had the strength to grab an axe and destroy a motorcycle to pieces.

Meanwhile, once in hospital, El Sallak said he was initially reluctant to reveal who had stabbed him, but after being told that he was in danger od dying, he told Inspector Daniel Zammit that it was Il-Giza who had stabbed him. 

Pressed to explain what he told the doctors, El Sallak hit back telling the defence that in the midst of doctors holding his guts in and nurses taking off his bloodied clothes, he could not remember.

Rebutting the defence’s claims that his testimony was “a complete lie from the beginning,” El Sallak hit out and told Judge Michael Mallia that the “senseless” attack left him weak and that four years on, he “rather be dead than alive.”

On its part, the defence is claiming that the accused stabbed El Sallak after the latter insisted on selling him a Playstation games console and produced a knife after refusing.

Earlier, forensic officers testified that upon arriving at the apartment in Marsa, it was evident that the apartment had been cleaned to cover up any blood traces.

Police Sergeants Duncan Demicoli and Mark Chetcuti explained that even the floor had been hurriedly washed, there was still traces of blood in the nooks and crannies.

“Upon entering into the apartment it was evident that the apartment had been cleaned, there was a strong smell of bleach. However, we could still see drops of blood on the floor and a blood-stained curtain,” Sergeant Demicoli explained.

He also said that chemical examinations revealed further traces of blood in the apartment and in the common area of the apartment block. Photos exhibited in court also showed traces of blood on the stairs.

Lawyers Kevin Valletta and Vincienne Vella from the Attorney General's office are prosecuting. Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo are appearing for Farrugia.