One of the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Malta charged with killing the immigrant from Mali admitted to kicking him five times while the other one admitted to seeing him doing that.
The detention security officers who were in the van that carried the immigrant to the Paola Health Centre were told by the soldiers to say that the immigrant was still resisting them in the van when in fact he did not even move and showed no signs of life.
The court continued to hear the compilation of evidence against 44 year old Mark Anthony Dimech from Gzira and 29 year old Clive Cuschieri from Paola who are being charged with the killing of the immigrant.
35 year old soldier Gordon Pickard is being charged with perverting the course of justice in his bid to cover up the killing.
The police said that in the night between 29 and 30 June it received information that an immigrant arrived dead at the Paola Health Centre in a Detention Centre van. The immigrant was lying dead in the van, handcuffed, facing up and his head near the door of the van. According to the post-mortem he died because he was kicked in his genitals.
The police said they found out that in the van the immigrant was accompanied by Dimech, Cuschieri and Pickard together with two other officers: Frans Scerri and Mario Cuschieri. As they suspected foul play all five were arrested.
The police said that the two soldiers charged with murder the AFM was informed that an immigrant who had escaped from the detention centre had gone to the Floriana Health Centre.
A security van was sent to get him and bring him back to the Safi Detention Centre. Once he was brought to the centre the immigrant had problems with other immigrants who asked the authorities to remove him as they were going to attack him.
At a certain point Abdalla ran away after he threw to the ground one of the security officers of the Detention Centre and the three soldiers chased him. They caught up with him in Safi where Dimech tried to hold him but the immigrant was going to get away again. It was at this moment that Cuschieri kicked him and after Pickard arrived they went back to the Detention Centre where the two security officers were told to get into the van and accompany the immigrant to the Paola Health Centre.
The police said that Cuschieri admitted to kicking the immigrant but said he tried to kick him on his thighs. Dimech admitted to seeing Cuschieri kick the immigrant.
Both Dimech and Cuschieri told the police that the immigrant had been aggressive with them. He bit them and tried to kick them and butt them with his head. Medical examinations showed that the two officers had been injured and Dimech had a bite that a dental examination showed had come from the immigrant. After the immigrant was taken to the Paola Health centre a doctor examined him and found him dead and the police were informed.
The police said that at first Dimech and Cuschieri told them that the immigrant had resisted them in the van as well but later on they admitted it was not true. Frans Scerri and Mario Cuschieri said that after the immigrant escaped and was caught they were told by the three soldiers to accompany them to the Paola Health Centre. They got into the van were the immigrant lay without any signs of life. Scerri felt his pulse and felt nothing.
The two officers said that two of the soldiers told them to keep on saying that Abdalla was violent in the van with Scerri saying it was Dimech who told him to say that the immigrant resisted them in the van while Cuschieri said it was Pickard.
Lieutenant Nicholas Camilleri who is in charge of the Safi Detention Centre said that on the day of the incident in Block B where the immigrant was put there were six security officers and a soldier guarding 195 immigrants.
He explained that the soldiers and the security officers had only handcuffs and he described Dimech as a responsible person who had saved an immigrant from being burned after there was a fire at the Centre.
Dr Franco Debono who is defending Cuschieri said that what Camilleri had just said about having seven persons guarding 195 immigrants and that they were equipped with handcuffs only shows how “perfect” the policy on immigration is.
Paul Mario Muscat, another soldier who went to the Floriana Health Centre to get the immigrant said that he was boasting that he had escaped. Frans Dalli said that the immigrant started singing Bob Marley songs and told them he was happy as he had been to a reggae party,
Detention officer Aronne Gravina said that the immigrant threw him to the ground and ran away and described Dimech as man who often went amongst the immigrants to cal them and according to him they respected him.
The court granted bail to the two soldiers Scerri and Cuschieri after paying a deposit of €9,000 and a personal guarantee of €30,000 each.