Two brothers at the centre of a violent scuffle, sparked off by a family argument that resulted in a clash out on a Żebbug street four years ago, were cleared of criminal liability on Tuesday.

Francis Bugeja, 31, together with his brother Tyson, 23, were jointly accused of attempting to grievously injure Yurgen Gauci, the brother of Francis’ girlfriend.

The elder of the two was further accused of breaching bail conditions as well as of having committed the alleged wrongdoing during the operative period of a suspended sentence. His brother Tyson was also separately accused of breaching bail. Moreover, both co-accused were charged as recidivists.

It all started late in the evening on October 13, 2014 when police were alerted to a fight in Triq Wied Qirda, Żebbug, which allegedly began when Yurgen Gauci, together with his girlfriend and elderly parents, turned up outside the home of Yurgen’s sister at Żebbug.

The visit, prompted by some issue regarding the woman’s son, had allegedly resulted in a smashed front door and a heated row inside the apartment wherein chairs were allegedly brandished and another woman, the accused’s sister, claimed to have been dragged by the hair.

The episode had reportedly sparked off a call to the Bugeja brothers, who, accompanied by their mother and two minors, had driven in a BMW all the way from Vittoriosa to Żebbug.

Stopping outside Ms Gauci’s apartment block, the Bugeja brothers had allegedly confronted a young man, Yurgen Gauci, who at the time was accompanied by his elderly parents.

Although the parties gave differing versions as to what happened next, the outcome of that encounter was a struggle which left Mr Gauci with a swollen nose and a superficial laceration on his back, while Francis Bugeja suffered a cut tendon on his left wrist, possibly caused with a screwdriver.

In the course of criminal proceedings against the two Bugeja brothers, the court, presided over by magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, observed that neither the co-accused nor any of the eyewitnesses had testified.

However, the evidence appeared to indicate that the two brothers had left the site of the fight, leading the court to conclude that they had "left the scene of the crime out of their own free will," rather than on account of some accidental cause, beyond their will, as alleged by the prosecution.

As for the injuries allegedly inflicted upon Mr Gauci, the court observed that these had been medically certified as slight, contrary to what had been stated in the charges.

It was also noted that the alleged victim had recalled how he had experienced "a shiver down his spine" when he was hit by an object which he never caught sight of. His girlfriend, also present at the time, had allegedly told the police that one of the co-accused had hit the victim with a scythe-like object retrieved from the BMW luggage booth.

However, since no weapons had been found at the scene of the fight and since the victim had declared that he absolutely could not tell whether the alleged aggressor had wielded a weapon, the court concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges relating to the grievous injuries.

The court was "morally convinced" that the injuries inflicted had been of a slight nature. However, since the alleged victim had forgiven his aggressors and declared in open court that he wished to drop the charges, the court cleared the two brothers of all criminal liability.

In separate proceedings, Mr Gauci was likewise acquitted over his alleged involvement in the same incident.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were counsel to the Bugeja brothers. Lawyer Kris Busietta was counsel to Mr Gauci.

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