Murder trial: Victim cried for help

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The trial of the man accused of fatally stabbing Roderick Grech continued on Thursday. Etienne Bartolo, 39 of Birkirkara known as il-Vojt is currently facing over the alleged fatal stabbing of Grech.

The stabbing took place on 29 March 2017 on Triq Tumas Fenech in Birkirkara when the two had met to settle a drug debt.

During the sitting on Thursday a number of police officers took the witness stand.

The trial is being heard before the Criminal Court which is presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera.

An eyewitness told the court that she had spotted a man clutching his stomach and crying for help. The witness said that first she had heard the sound of screeching brakes followed by a blaring horn. From her apartment she could hear the man cry for help. The woman had then called the police. She had seen the victim collapse to the floor.

A man who happened to be passing by on that night also took the witness stand. He recalled how he had come across the man who was bleeding. The victim had urged him to call an ambulance and kept mumbling “il-vojt”. The witness at the time did not know that that was the nickname of the accused.

Another police officer who took the witness stand told the court that when he got to the scene the victim was almost unconscious with his eyes closed.

Grech’s car had been parked in the middle of the road, lights on, wipers working, door open, two mobiles and a pouch on the driver’s seat, an RIU officer told the court.

The jury went on-site inquiry later on, on Thursday.

Gaetano Bonnici, 62, also testified on Thursday. The man’s name was called out by the victim. He recalled that he was waken up from his sleep and found officers outside his home.

He told the court that he knew the victim because he would frequent village bars and clubs and would play football at the ground. The man told the court that he was a pensioner and lived off his pension. He told the court that while in the past he would lend money to others, nowadays he did not. Bonnici told the court that he would frequently change his mobile number because “many people called” and he found it annoying.

Bonnici had faced charges relating to usury in the past.

Under cross-examination, the witness faced several questions over his relationship to the victim with the defence suggesting that the victim was involved in loan-sharking.

The witness said that he did not hear anything except for the doorbell. The defence insisted that the witness had a deeper relationship with the victim than what he was saying in court.

He was asked about his mobile phone and the contacts saved. The witness said that he did not have any numbers saved on his phone. The court ordered the witness to exhibit his phone. He then said that the contacts he had saved were by “nickname”.

In court it emerged that the witness would meet the victim some four times a week. Asked about their frequent phone calls which did not last a minute, the man said that Grech would inform him if there were any people that would like to speak to him.

During Thursday’s sitting it emerged that there was a typing error in a crime officer’s report. The court ordered the expert to prepare a corrected version of the report.

Lawyers Kevin Valletta and Maria Francesca Spiteri from the AG’s office are prosecuting. Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo are appearing for the accused. Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are appearing as parte civile.