Updated 8.15pm

A Syrian man on Monday pleaded not guilty to killing a co-national in Marsalforn on Saturday evening.

Maher Aljasem, 24, from Marsalforn, denied stabbing Fawaz Najem, 25, to death during a confrontation between two groups of Syrians in an apartment.

Before Magistrate Bridgette Sultana, Aljasem also denied possessing a weapon during the crime and breaching the peace. He was additionally charged with slightly injuring Kazem Abdalaa with a knife.

There was no request for bail for the man, who is a plasterer by profession. He was remanded in custody.

The victim's relatives have appealed for calm so as not to "complicate matters further".

Wearing a bulletproof vest, Aljasem was escorted to court by several special intervention police officers. 

Syrian nationals gathered outside the Gozo law courts in Victoria before the arraignment, with the police cordoning off the entrance to Victoria, where the law courts are situated.

Police were also seen checking cars boarding the Gozo Channel ferry in ÄŠirkewwa in the hours ahead of the arraignment. 

Police cordoned off the main entrance to Victoria ahead of the court sitting. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Police cordoned off the main entrance to Victoria ahead of the court sitting. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Syrian nationals gathered outside the Gozo law courts in Victoria before the arraignment. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Syrian nationals gathered outside the Gozo law courts in Victoria before the arraignment. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Times of Malta has published footage of an altercation that broke out at around 11am on Saturday morning when the two groups of Syrian men met outside a Marsalforn café.

The footage, released with the family's permission, shows the victim being struck with a bar before he ran inside the café to shield himself from further blows.

Sometime between 8pm and 10pm on Saturday, the two groups met again and another fight broke out, ending with Fawaz losing his life after he was stabbed.

He was admitted to Gozo General Hospital with stab wounds, and a head injury, but was certified dead soon after arrival. The case is being investigated by the police Major Crimes Unit and Magistrate Sultana is holding an inquiry.

Investigators have so far established that the fight broke out between two groups of Syrian nationals: Fawaz and three friends on one side and another four men on the other. 

Fawaz's friends are telling police that he had appealed for calm before the fight got out of hand. His family say he was a "normal young man" who was "never involved in fights". 

However, members of the opposing 'gang' are claiming that his group turned up at the Marsalforn apartment to fight after trouble had been brewing between the two groups for a number of weeks.

Sources close to the investigation said the apartment where the fight broke out was not where Fawaz and his friends were living.

The accused is being escorted to Corradino Correctional Facility under heavy security. Video: Matthew Xuereb

Lawyes Angele Vella and Anthony Vella from the Attorney General's office, police inspector Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri prosecuted.

Lawyer Kevin Mampalao was legal aid lawyer, while lawyer Matthew Xuereb appeared parte civile. 

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