Update: Autopsy of 47 year old Mario Galea concluded on Tuesday that he died from asphyxia due to inhalation of blood causing airway obstruction and pressure on chest. The autopsy revealed that both the beatings he suffered and the fact that he was run over by a taxi contributed to his death.
Police sources say that Galea was beaten very badly before he was run over by a taxi and would have probably died even if he was not run over.
CCTV footage shows 28 year old Joe Zahra from St Julians kicking Galea while he was on the ground. A few moments later a taxi ran over Galea while Zahra and Brian Cini ran away from the scene in a car.
Joe Zahra and Brian Cini - both 28 years old - were charged in court with the murder of Mario Galea. They pleaded not guilty but did not request bail. In the meantime new forensic tests will be carried out on Tuesday to establish whether 47 year old Mario Galea was already dead when a taxi ran over him on Friday morning in Paceville, St Julians. This morning’s post-mortem on his body was suspended and will continue once the forensic tests have been carried out.
Zahra and Cini asked the court to put the medical record of Galea under its custody and to carry out blood and toxicological tests on Galea and to examine the wounds that Galea inflicted on them. They also asked to be examined by a psychiatrist and to be kept in the forensic section of Mount Carmel Hospital if necessary. The court acceded to all their rquests.
Investigators will be examining the CCTV footage of the scene when the incident took place last Friday morning when Galea had an argument with Zahra and Cini over €50. They are now being held by the police investigating Galea's death. The argument started near the Maxim’s Pastizzeria in Ross Street, Street and then flared up into a physical fight. One of the men chased him and knocked him to the ground and kicked him senseless and then ran off with his friend in a car.
Shortly after a white taxi with an Italian tourist in it arrived on the sport and 35 year old taxi driver from Attard – Robert Aquilina – did not notice the body on the ground as he looked at the small group of people that had gathered to watch what was happening. Mario Galea’s body was dragged by the white taxi for eight metres before he stopped when onlookers drew the attention of the taxi driver to what was happening.
Saturday morning - The police are holding two men over the death of Mario Galea, 47 from Sliema who was killed after he was run over by a BMW on Friday morning at 3.40h in Paceville Avenue, St Julian’s after an argument he had with them.
A medical team and the Civil Protection Department personnel were called to help get him out from under the car.
He was found to be already dead. Two men, both aged 28, from Rabat Gozo and the other from St. Julians, are being questioned and held by the police.
The autopsy will be carried out today.
A magisterial inquiry is under way.
Photo: John Pisani - Orizzont