Carmel Pace gives emotional testimony

"When I saw our collapsed house I told myself that only a miracle could save my wife"

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

This morning Carmel Pace testified in Court. Carmel Pace is the husband of Miriam Pace, 54, who was found dead under the debris of her house that collapsed due to ongoing excavation works on an adjacent construction site.

The accident happened on March 2 in Triq Joseph Abela Scolaro in Ħamrun.

The compilation of evidence against four individuals who have been accused of Pace’s death through negligence and involuntarily damaging third-party property started on Thursday 21st May.

10:40 The next sitting will be held on the 2nd of July 2020.
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10:40 The testimony of Carmel Pace ends here.
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10:37 Pace said that no one had contacted him prior to the accident and until today he hasn't been paid by the insurance.
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10:36 He said he lost all the cars they were inside the garage: 6 in total; 5 were his.
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10:35 Pace said that he did not realize that the collapsed house was the one on top of his garage.

He remembers a huge blast.
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10:33 Pace is the owner of the garage situated under the property of Carmel and Miriam Pace.
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10:32 The last person to testify today is Mr Carmelo Pace – not the widower Carmel Pace.
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10:32 Zerafa's testimony ends here.
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10:30 Lawyer Montalto asked Ms Rosette Zerafa to clarify who told them that the use of the trencher is expensive and that the 2,5 feet do not need to be enforced.

Zerafa replied that it was the contractor and the architect of the project.
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10:28 Counter exam by Lawyer Roberto Montalto.
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10:27 She is being asked by Magistrate Mifsud to identify architect Roderick Camilleri, who is present in the courtroom.
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10:24 She said that she cannot return home and sleep comfortably when from the windows of her house she can see the collapsed house of the family Pace.
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10:21 Rosette Zerafa said that they were given a property to live in and after a few days they told them they could return home to collect a few things. She recalls how she suffered from an anxiety attack but managed to go in with her architect.
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10:20 Magistrate Joe Mifsud is asking Ms Zerafa to indicate which photo she is referring to.
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10:18 After the accident happened and people were gathering and all of a sudden she heard someone that they were going to move the machinery.

People said that it would be better to take photos of the scene, said Zerafa.
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10:14 On the day of the accident Zerafa said she arrived from work at around 1:30pm.

She was calling her daughter who was studying abroad and during the call she told her daughter to stop because she heard a huge noise but did not know what was happening.

From a window a saw the building collapsing. "I could not move and something inside me told me to get out as I was in danger" – said Ms Zerafa.

She also said that when she got out of her home the only thing she saw was a white fog and at a certain point in time she could not breathe well.

"I tried to call Miriam as I had her mobile number but could not reach her" – Rosette Zerafa.
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10:06 Rosette Zerafa said that the contractors and the architect told her that there was no need to observe the 2.5 feet distance when building.
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10:06 Rosette Zerafa said that the contractors and the architect told her that there was no need to observe the 2.5 feet distance when building.
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10:04 She is giving details of a particular incident when the construction works were underway – around 15 days prior to the collapse of the house.

She has also commissioned an architect to check her property.
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10:01 From where our property stands, we used to feel the constant vibrations but from their end, they used to feel the vibrations more, explained Ms Zerafa.
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09:59 Ms Zerafa said that when they started digging in the wall touching their property the vibrations were unbearable.

"I was scared but Miriam was terrified" – said Rosette Zerafa.
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09:58 She said that she had also warned the contractors to be careful during the construction works.
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09:55 Ms Zerafa lives in the road behind the Pace's property. She lives in a first-floor maisonette, like the Pace family.
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09:55 Ms Rosette Zerafa takes the witness stand.
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09:54 John Sammut's testimony ends here.
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09:49 Sammut is explaining how the construction works underway were like constant tremors.
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09:47 John Sammut said that he warned the architect and the contractor to not damage their homes as happened in Pieta'.

Sammut said that they told him that they were not like the contractors in Pieta'.
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09:45 Sammut said that he is lucky that he is still alive as at the time of the accident he was sleeping in his home.

Sammut said that he got out of the bed terrified as he heard a huge noise "It was like an earthquake" said John Sammut.

His neighbours told him to immediately get out of the house as buildings were collapsing.
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09:44 Sammut said that he lived in Hamrun for around 30 years and he now lives in San Gwann.
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09:43 John Sammut is asked to take the witness stand.
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09:42 Carmel Pace's testimony ends here.

The daughter of Carmel and Miriam Pace is not ready to testify yet and will take the witness stand on another day.
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09:41 Carmel Pace said that his wife had lost all her hope that they could sell all their house.
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09:39 Carel Pace said that they only managed to recover a few items from their house. The jewellery and the rest of their belongings could not be found, said Pace.
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09:36 "When I saw the state of the house I told myself that a miracle could save my wife" – said Carmel Pace.

Although we are living in a comfortable house it is not our home. We lost all hope and plans for the future, explained Carmel.
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09:35 Members of the family started arriving on the scene a few minutes after, said Pace.
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09:34 He recalls asking his manager to leave and rushed to his house as he sensed that something has happened to his wife.
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09:34 Carmel Pace is giving an emotional testimony.
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09:32 Carmel Pace said that he used to call his wife everyday at 2pm.

On the day of the accident, he called her at 2:10 pm. 5 minutes after the call a colleague of his told him that a house collapsed in Canon Road Hamrun.

He called her on her mobile phone and on the landline but she did not answer.
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09:31 Miriam Pace was suffering from anxiety due to all this, said Pace.
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09:26 Carmel Pace said that on the 27th of February he recalls that when he came home after work he noticed a number of construction material in front of their house. This was around 3pm. Pace also said that huge noise from the construction works could be heard and that his wife was terrified.

He also said that he went around the house to check if there were any damages.

This happened days after the meeting with the contractor happened.
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09:24 When the construction works were underway especially when they started tearing down the wall adjacent to their property, Pace said that he commissioned an architect on his behalf to prepare a report on the state of his property.
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09:24 This meeting happened on the 24th of February 2020.
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09:23 Both himself and Miriam were present during this meeting together with the neighbours.
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09:22 This meeting happened a week after the first accident. Pace insisted that the contractor and the architect told them they are following all the necessary precautions according to law.
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09:21 Pace said that following this accident his wife together with the neighbours wanted to meet with the contractor and the architect of the project.
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09:18 In February 2020 the first accident happened on the site.

Carmel Pace recalls that his wife was terrified and worried when the accident happened in February. He recalls Miriam telling him "bdejna"
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09:16 Pace said that since the beginning of the project, next to their house, they had a much bigger urged to sell the house as they wanted a quieter place.
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09:14 Lawyer Joe Giglio appearing as parte civile is asking Mr Pace if they had objected to the development adjacent to their house.

Pace said that they wanted to move out of the house because they wanted a smaller property and wanted to buy one close to their daughter's home.
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09:12 Pace said that he and Miriam got married in April 1988 and had two children. They have always lived, as a family, in the house which collapsed in the accident in March 2020.
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09:10 Carmel Pace is asked to give the background of his life.
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09:09 Mr Pace is currently living in Zebbug.
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09:09 Carmel Pace is asked to take the witness stand.
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09:08 During the proceedings on Thursday, Police Inspector Robert Vella took the witness stand.

Testifying in court, Vella gave an account of the events which led to the collapse and the police investigations that took place.

All throughout that morning, the construction had been working at the site alongside another worker, Albanian-national, clearing rubble to make way for excavation works, making use of an excavator with bucket. The Maltese construction worker construction waste material away from the site.

Shortly before the incident, just after 2pm, the Maltese worker had allegedly shifted his operations to another excavation machine, a new addition to which a hammer head had just been attached for the first time.

His Albanian colleague recalled that the Maltese worker had been chipping away at the hard rocks beneath the adjoining showroom when the property gave way.
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09:07 We are live from courtroom 22.
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09:07 Good morning and welcome to this live blog
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