Four bouncers were charged on Tuesday with injuring three men in a Paceville brawl that was filmed by onlookers and uploaded by the media.

The fight broke out at 2.20am on Sunday on St Rita Steps. 

Jadalla Abo Assaf , a 35-year old Libyan construction worker resident in Qawra, Imad Adel Hazory, a 60-year old Sudanese security guard resident in Birkirkara, Giacomo Farrugia, a 42-year old helper from Zurrieq and Goranche Krstevski, a 50-year old Bulgarian helper living in Qawra were accused of grievously injuring two of the victims and slightly injuring a third man as well as wilfully breaching the public peace.

Assaf, Farrugia and Krstovski were further charged with working as security guards without a licence.

All pleaded not guilty.

Prosecuting Inspector Brian Xuereb said investigators gathered footage from security cameras at commercial establishments. They identified the four suspected aggressors who turned themselves in after police contacted the establishment where they worked.

Defence lawyer Jacob Magri requested bail for Assaf, Hazory and Farrugia.

The prosecution pointed out that Krstevski was not even registered with Identity Malta and had no residence card. All three others had a Maltese ID card.

Bail was objected to because proceedings are still at a very early stage and the alleged victims still have to testify.

Given the sensitive and serious nature of the crime, the fear of tampering with evidence and the fact that “justice must not only be done but be seen to be done with the public too,” bail ought not be granted, argued AG lawyer Jurgen Dalli.

The defence rebutted that just because this particular incident happened to be filmed by onlookers, unlike others which went unnoticed, did not give it “a more serious twist.”

The incident had been captured on footage from different angles and thus was well-preserved. That footage was the best evidence, argued Magri.

As for the accused’s trustworthiness, the lawyer pointed out that all the suspects cooperated from the start and turned themselves in voluntarily. Their criminal records were practically untainted, except for some minor infringements.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea upheld the bail request for Assaf, Hazory and Farrugia against a deposit of €10,000 each, a personal guarantee of €5000, signing the bail book twice weekly and under a curfew between 11pm and 6am.

All three were also prohibited from approaching any third parties who gave the footage to the police and from going to St Julian’s “even if [they] work there.”

The fourth co-accused was remanded in custody.

The court also upheld a request for a protection order in favour of the alleged victims and issued a ban on publication of the victims’ names.

AG lawyer Jurgen Dalli and Inspector Brian Xuereb prosecuted.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are defence counsel.

Sunday's incident was the latest in a series involving bouncers or security personnel at the entertainment mecca.

Earlier this year, a group of security guards were caught on camera beating a man lying on the ground and kicking him repeatedly in the head. 

The beating led to the arrest of three people – including the victim – and has seen renewed talk about safety in Paceville with stakeholders wondering whatever had become of 2019 plans for reform in the licensing of bouncers.

In 2019, former minister Michael Farrugia told Times of Malta that under his tenure, the ministry had begun discussions with stakeholders about the matter.

In March, the Home Affairs Ministry told parliament that a security company was facing criminal charges over the engagement of 22 people who, in the first two months of the year, were found to be illegally working as bouncers in Paceville. 

The owner of an entertainment business has also been charged over the engagement of a bouncer without the necessary license.

Another bouncer who landed in court is self-employed. 

Home AFfairs Minister Byron Camilleri said that, in all, throughout January and February, 24 people were found to be illegally working as bouncers in the entertainment hub.



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