A police inspector testifying in the case of a man who was savagely beaten up in Paceville on New Year's Eve is claiming there was no racism involved when the alleged victim was denied entry into a club.

Details of the incident emerged at the first hearing of the compilation of evidence against Ryan Zammit, a 26-year-old Gżira resident who was charged as one of five bouncers allegedly involved in the violent episode.

Footage of the brutal attack, first published by Lovin Malta, showed around five bouncers kicking and hitting a man lying motionless on the floor as horrified onlookers watched. The victim also published a video showing that he had tried to get the police to intervene with an issue he was having with the club bouncers before the beating. 

Before that video made it to social media, one of the alleged aggressors had already filed an official report to the police, claiming that he had been attacked with a broken bottle at around midnight. 

That man, later identified as 21-year-old Albanian national Riald Gragjevi, was taken to hospital for treatment but had been discharged by the time police investigations into the incident kicked off. 

Working on that social media footage, filmed by third parties who were still to be identified, the police set about gathering CCTV footage from various establishments located in the area where events leading up to the beating took place. 

Piecing together the evidence was no easy task, even because hardly any of the final aggression was captured on video, mainly because surveillance cameras were obstructed by the festive decorations on the streets. 

With “balloons and banners” in the way, footage only showed snippets of the chase leading up to the beating, explained prosecuting Inspector Brian Xuereb who testified at length in Zammit’s case. 

“But people beating [the victim] cannot be seen. Or very little of it, through the [street] ornaments.”

'All showing a valid ID card were allowed in'

A surge of clubbers turned up at Havana before the stroke of midnight, each showing their Maltese identity card at the door to make it past security. 

“All showing a valid ID card were allowed in, all race and colour… There were no racism issues whatsoever,” said the inspector, who had examined footage subsequently gathered from the site where the chain of events first started. 

Then Sudanese national Ahmed Adem Idriss Albarjo, came up to the bouncers at the door, showed them a document but was turned away. 

“They told him it (the document) wasn’t good,” said Xuereb.

But the man insisted, refusing to leave until two bouncers led him down the stairs to the street, clearing the entrance so that other people could go in. 

Idriss would not budge and that was when one of the bouncers punched him on the chin and forcibly led him away. 

At that point, the rejected clubber went to some police officers patrolling the streets of Paceville, complaining and trying to get them to intervene in his issue with the bouncers. 

He was told to go and file a police report. 

Instead, the man headed back to the club, looking out for his ‘target’ to throw what appeared to be a sizeable Vodka bottle. Riald sensed the man’s intention and grabbed him by the arms. That was when Idriss fell to the ground, glass bottle in hand. 

A scuffle broke out between the bouncer and Idriss who then grabbed the broken bottle and flung it straight at Riald, striking him on the upper back.

The chase and the beating 

After throwing the bottle, Idriss took to his heels. Several security guards reacted and gave chase, running after the man who headed in the direction of the Burger King outlet. 

That was where the bouncers caught up with him, raining blows and punches.

Riald was armed with a metallic telescopic baton, easily visible in the footage. 

A large bouncer intervened and floored Idriss.

The other bouncers stepped away but two of them, namely Riald and Zammit, continued, explained the prosecutor.

Those two continued to hit and kick the man who lay motionless on the ground.

Asked by Zammit’s lawyer, Herman Mula, whether the alleged victim had received a beating before Zammit stepped in, the inspector explained that before Zammit joined the aggression, the victim was still on his feet.

Once the victim was floored by the large bouncer, Riald continued to hit Idriss with the baton on his head and legs.

Both Riald and Zammit also kicked the man on the head. 

Xuereb said that he could easily identify Zammit on that footage since he knew him by sight, having seen him on various previous occasions working at Paceville commercial establishments.

That evening Zammit was not working at Havana and had joined the brawl further away when bouncers from that club caught up with the victim after the chase. 

The court, presided over by magistrate Nadine Sant Lia, directed the inspector to indicate the various sources from which police had obtained the different footage documenting the whole incident. 

Zammit was granted bail against a deposit of €1,000, a personal guarantee of €3,000, signing the bail book twice weekly and under a curfew between 10pm and 8am. 

Idriss was meanwhile also granted bail in separate proceedings where he stands charged with slightly injuring the bouncer who suffered a tear on the chest and a cut on the head in the broken bottle episode. 

AG lawyers Etienne Savona and Giuliana Magro Conti are prosecuting together with Inspector Brian Xuereb.

Lawyer Herman Mula is counsel to Zammit. Lawyer Roberta Bonello is counsel to Idriss. 

Lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi and Jessica Formosa are counsel to Gragjevi. 

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