In August 2020, Emil Marinov was slashed more than 20 times with a butcher’s cleaver in a horrific frenzy of violence.     

Less than two years later his alleged assailant stands accused of an almost identical crime, except this time he is charged with murder.  

Police now believe the two attacks may have both been unprovoked. 

“How can it be that this man was out on bail? It’s just not right,” Marinov, 58, told Times of Malta, opening up for the first time since the savage attack. 

The Bulgarian national questions how the judicial system allows those charged with such heinous crimes to roam the streets until the case is decided. 

“He ruined my life. I try to stand up again, but I can’t forget.”

Elliot Paul Busuttil, 38, was arrested by police soon after he allegedly attacked Marinov with a heavy metal blade meant for hacking through flesh and bone. 

Had an off-duty policeman not driven by the dark Ta’ Qali country lane, Marinov says he would almost certainly not have made it through the night.     

Within hours of the attack, Busuttil was arrested and charged with attempted homicide. 

Emil Marinov opens up about his ordeal. Video: Jonathan Borg/Karl Andrew Micallef

However, just a few weeks later he was out of preventative custody on bail having pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Two years later, a repeat crime? 

Legal sources have said that while those charged with a crime have the right to the presumption of innocence, bail should be weighed against the risk they pose to themselves and others.  

“When a person is accused of a very dangerous and violent act the court is expected to weigh the risk to public safety and the possibility of a repeat of the offence,” a prosecutor said.

Eight days ago, Busuttil was arrested and charged in court again, this time with the gruesome killing of taxi driver Mario Farrugia, whose decaying corpse was discovered in the boot of his abandoned Peugeot 407 in the Qormi valley earlier this month.  

Busuttil has again pleaded not guilty.  

An autopsy established that Farrugia, 62, had been stabbed more than 40 times.  

At first, investigators believed that Farrugia may have been involved in a drug or financial dispute with Busuttil. But they now say the attack was most likely unprovoked.  

Meanwhile, Marinov says he had been in court with the alleged attacker just a few days before police made the discovery in the Qormi valley. 

Farrugia had likely already been dead for a few days, yet Busuttil was calm and collected in the courtroom, Marinov says.    

“New haircut, nice clothes, smiling and talking – like normal, like nothing had happened,” he said. 

A victim in a prison of fear

Fighting back tears, Marinov says he has lived in psychological agony for two years. 

The former construction worker lost his job soon after the attack and lives on a disability pension of a few hundred euros a month that barely covers the cost of medication he depends on. 

Lawyers’ fees at the start of his case depleted his savings.  

Marinov has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – his hand trembles and shakes uncontrollably. 

He releases his tears like rain from a dark and burdened cloud.

Marinov fears the outside world. Prison bars line his windows and heavy bolts seal his front door shut day and night. 

He is imprisoned in his fortress home and says he is tormented by the knowledge that – had it not been for sheer luck – he would never have returned home.   

“I was hit 26 times. And now, another man was hit more than 40 times,” he says. 

The day of the attack

Reliving the day of the attack, Marinov says he was in high spirits and on his way to make an addition to his personal collection of audio equipment.  

“I am crazy about hi-fi,” he says, gesturing towards the speakers huddled in a corner of his living room.  

He had stumbled across an advertisement on Facebook marketplace advertising a pair of tower speakers and he was keen to add them to his collection.   

The seller was Facebook user ‘Elliot Busuttil’.  

The fateful Facebook conversation that changed Marinov's life.The fateful Facebook conversation that changed Marinov's life.

Marinov reached out to him and agreed on a price. He was quite happy to shell out the €150 for what he hoped would add a crispness to his sound system.  

He says his alleged attacker told him to drive to Marsa, asked for a €30 advance on the payment for the speakers, and vanished down an alley. 

At the time he thought nothing of it. 

Today, Marinov suspects he had helped Busuttil purchase drugs.  

Sources say Busuttil has a history of crack cocaine abuse. 

After stringing him along for nearly two hours, Marinov says Busuttil had him drive down a deserted country lane leading to some fields near the national football stadium in Ta’ Qali. 

By this point, it was 10pm and the area was a dark ghost town.   

Marinov says his alleged attacker leapt out of the car, leaving the passenger door open.  

“I went to close the door and then [I felt] a big hit,” Marinov recalls. 

He had been hacked at the back of skull with a butcher’s cleaver that police would later find not far from the scene of the attack. 

“I turned around and I saw him looking at me and smiling.”  

What followed was a vicious attack.  

“My ear, my other ear, my face, lips, my head, my arms,” Marinov says, running his index finger along the scars that run like a mountain range etched into his right cheek. 

Marinov needed dozens of stitches following the attack.Marinov needed dozens of stitches following the attack.

According to Marinov’s account, Busuttil smiled after he struck him the first time.

He went on to suffer another 25 blows, 20 of which were to the face and head.

The ordeal lasted around eight to 10 minutes and ended, according to Marinov, with Busuttil taking the €120 he had stuffed in his trouser pocket.  

Tracking down the assailant

Marinov thanked the police for solving the case within a few hours.  

Investigators tracked Busuttil down to his mother’s home in an Attard social housing estate.  

They believe he was showering when they entered the property and he escaped through the bathroom window. He was arrested a few hours later wearing only a bath towel.  

Although police charged him with attempted murder, prosecutors were flummoxed when his application for bail was approved.  

The Criminal Code lays down that a court can grant bail to a person accused of a crime.  

Defence lawyers argue that this is a right and that withholding bail is the exception and not the rule.  

The law says bail can be granted after taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, the nature and seriousness of the offence, the character of the accused as well as any other matter which appears to be relevant.

Prosecutors have told Times of Malta that the Valletta courts have withheld bail in situations where the accused is deemed to be a threat to public order and safety.  

Marinov shows his scars.Marinov shows his scars.

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