Evidence against two soldiers charged with the racially-motivated murder of a man was presented in court on Wednesday.

Francesco Fenech, 21, and Lorin Scicluna, 22, stand accused of having killed Lassana Cisse Souleymane, 42, in a drive-by shooting in Birżebbuġa last April. They deny the charges of what is believed to be Malta's first racially-motivated murder.

The two were also charged with the attempted murder of two more migrants in a separate shooting on the same day.  

What emerged in Wednesday's hearing

  • Scicluna named Fenech as the shooter while in police custody, having denied firing the gun but having initially refused to provide a name.

  • Dylan German - Scicluna's friend and Fenech's cousin - described Scicluna a "Nazi" because of his comments about black people.

  • Scicluna and German bonded over a passion for weapons and visited the shooting range together.

  • German said that Scicluna confessed the murder to him two weeks later, after Scicluna asked his advice on busting a gun barrel (which would prevent a bullet being traced back). According to German, Scicluna said Fenech had been with him and that he had been drinking before the murder.

  • German said in court he had been told about the murder by Scicluna, despite having earlier said while under custody that his cousin, Fenech, had told him of his involvement. The witness insisted his statements in custody were untrue.

Live Blog


12.55pm That's it for today. The next hearing will be on July 16. 


‘I’m not the one who fired’ Scicluna 'told' officers

12.50pm The officer says Lorin Scicluna had not wanted to get his friend into trouble. He says Jason Azzopardi, Scicluna's lawyer at the time, had also urged him to tell the truth: "Remember you have a family back home. Don’t shoulder the blame if you did not shoot.”

The scene of the drive-by shooting.The scene of the drive-by shooting.

The lawyer had said this in the presence of police officers, the officer testifies, but Scicluna had just insisted, weeping: "I'm not the one who fired." It was only just before the return to the lock-up that Francesco Fenech was named.


No lawyer present when Scicluna named Fenech as gunman

12.40pm Lawyer Giannella de Marco now asks whether Lorin Scicluna named Francesco Fenech, her client, as the shooter after being prompted with the suggestion: 'Was it your friend the soldier?' Officer Gerada, testifying, says he had been instructed by the investigating inspector, Trevor Micallef, to make the suggestion. The inspector was present throughout, but stepped out of the car as they reached the depot. Gerada remained alone was Scicluna and, seemingly more comfortable, named Fenech as the shooter. 

"I want justice to be done," Gerada says. "Lorin insisted so much that he had not pulled the trigger, that I felt that it would go against justice if he were to take all the blame when he had not fired the shots."

12.30pm Giannella de Marco, appearing for  Fenech, is now cross-examining the officer. She asks whether Scicluna named Fenech as the shooter in the presence of his lawyer - then Jason Azzopardi - or before a camera. No, the officer says. Was the lawyer with him on the day Scicluna made his claim about renting his car to a Libyan man? Not all the time, the officer says, adding that the lawyer was following in his own car, getting out when they stopped in Attard, and leaving later, around Paola. The lawyer was not present when Scicluna named Fenech. 


Scicluna weeps as police officers testify

12.20pm As the officer testifies, Lorin Scicluna weeps silently at the dock. Francesco Fenech looks passively ahead, never making eye contact with his co-accused. 


Scicluna named Fenech as the shooter - police officer

12.10pm We're back, with a number of police officers to testify next. Officer Gerada takes the stand: he accompanied Lorin Scicluna to three places where he had claimed he had lent his Toyota Starlet, the vehicle driven in the shooting, to a Libyan man. But the officer says he sensed Scicluna was making up the story. 

The officer says Scicluna insisted he had not carried out the shooting, and when pressed, had broken down inside the police car. "I did not shoot, I did not shoot". The officer says he told Scicluna to tell him the name of the person who fired, as otherwise he would shoulder all the blame. Scicluna said: "You know who fired the shots". 

On the way to the lock-up, the man seemed hestitant: "I don't want to tell you his name," Scicluna said, according to the officer. "I don't want to land him in jail."

Under further pressure, he finally blurted out: "Francesco Fenech fired. Now my friend will end up in jail."

A photo of Lassana Cisse left at a memorial after the murder in Ħal Far on April 6.A photo of Lassana Cisse left at a memorial after the murder in Ħal Far on April 6.


Magistrate warns witness against lying

11.54am Franco Debono, appearing for Lorin Scicluna, presses the point.

"Do you realise that what you said during the confrontation with your cousin was very serious?" Yes. "Did you say it because it was true that Francesco had confessed to you his involvement in the shooting?" No. "So you are saying you lied at the police depot? Why didn't you tell the police? You put your cousin in a lot of trouble?" I thought I would cause more trouble.

A parting shot: "Or is it because you actually said the truth then, and not now?" 

The witness sticks to his version. The court has paused for a break of a few minutes. 

11.45am For some time, the court has been focused on an apparent inconsistency in the witness's statements: was it Lorin Scicluna, alone, who told him about the shooting, as the witness said in court today? Or was it his cousin, Francesco Fenech, as he had allegedly said on an earlier occasion in police custody?

The witness insists the correct version is what he said today under oath, that Scicluna had told him everything. "I had been under shock, and under arrest, when I said Francesco had told me about his involvement," he says. "I wanted to put pressure on him. I didn't known who was telling the truth."

The magistrate warns him that his job is not to act as an investigator. 

11.40am The witness, Dylan German, is asked yet again whether he and Lorin Scicluna were alone when the accused told him about the shooting. "Yes, I'm sure, I'm sure, I'm sure," he says. But Inspector Keith Arnaud now asks him about a confrontation with his cousin (the other accused, Francesco Fenech) in police custody. The inspector says the witness had said then that his cousin had himself told him about the shooting. 

"Sorry, I forgot something," the witness says, now adding that his cousin had told him he had been at the pastizzeria, where Scicluna worked, before the shooting. The magistrate steps in: he senses that the witness is being evasive and inconsistent. He warns him that if he caught lying he would be "sent downstairs", to the lock-up.


Dylan German says Fenech was ‘never racist or violent’

11.30am Still under cross-examination, the witness - Dylan German, Francesco Fenech's cousin - repeats that his cousin had never said or done anything indicating he was racist or violent. He insists Lorin Scicluna had implicated his cousin after telling the witness about the murder, because he was worried the witness would go to the police. 

Lawyer Franco Debono now asks whether German is certain has cousin wasn't there when Scicluna told him about the murder (two weeks after it happened). "I'm sure," German says. "We were alone in my garage at the time".  Was his cousin present at any time? "It could be". Had he dropped by at all that day? "I'm not sure". 

Inspector Keith Arnaud, the prosecutor officer, steps in: the defence lawyer has asked this question a million times, he says. The questioning takes a different turn. 

11.25am Franco Debono (appearing for Lorin Scicluna) now asks why the witness had been shocked to hear of his cousin Francesco Fenech's possible involvement in the shooting when he knew Fenech had already been with Scicluna when they kicked a migrant's bike. "Perhaps because a person was killed," the witness replies quickly. "I believe everyone would be shocked."

He passes comments about Dr Debono’s line of cross examination, but the magistrate intervenes, instructing him to answer the questions without any further arguments.


Lassana Cisse was killed in Ħal Far on April 6.Lassana Cisse was killed in Ħal Far on April 6.


Scicluna's defence lawyer starts cross-examination

11.20am Franco Debono, appearing for Lorin Scicluna, is now questioning the witness. Why did you label Scicluna a "Nazi" when you couldn't remember the exact words he told you or the place where it happened, he asks. The witness says Scicluna had spoken to him face-to-face and used foul language when referring to migrants. 

Questioning turns to the visits Scicluna and the witness had made to the shooting range. Scicluna had taken more than 100 shots at a target, an A4-sized circle drawn on a board, the witness says. The distance between shooter and target was between 15 and 25 metres. 


German says Scicluna asked for help with bust gun barrel

11.10am The cross-examination continues. Defence lawyer Giannella de Marco asks about the time Lorin Scicluna wanted advice about busting a gun barrel. The gun's riflings, which mark the bullet and make it possible to trace it back to the gun, would be totally destroyed, the witness says.

Asked what he had been told about the night of the murder, German says Scicluna had said he fired at several migrants and stopped because of a weapon malfunction. The witness says he was shocked and angry at hearing this, knowing "he would lose his good job and get into trouble". 


Fenech's defence lawyer starts cross-examination

11.05am Defence lawyer Giannella de Marco (appearing for Francesco Fenech) is now starting a cross-examination. She asks about the first time the witness met Lorin Scicluna: it was just chance that Scicluna's car had stopped close to his house, the witness says, and he had helped restart it. Was Scicluna a good shot when they visited the shooting range? Very, the witness says. Scicluna's lawyers object to the question, pointing out that targets at the range were stationary. 


German grew suspicious after reading of a Toyota 

11am Dylan German says he texted his cousin after hearing of the shooting on the news, warning him not to keep bad company. "What made you do that," inspector Keith Arnaud asks. German says he knew Lorin Scicluna had a Toyota Starlet and became suspicious when media reports spoke of same type of car involved in the shooting. 


Dylan German says Fenech denied involvement

10.55am The witness says his cousin, Francesco Fenech, denied having had anything to do with the shooting, breaking in tears and swearing he had only been involved in a separate incident where he and Lorin Scicluna had kicked a migrant's bike. Scicluna, meanwhile, told German he had thrown ammunition into the sea at Delimara and had removed his car's number plates before the April 6 murder. 

The witness, Dylan German, says he had been asked by police to confront Francesco during interrogation. "I was rather confused at that time," he says. "I didn’t know whom to believe." German reiterates that his cousin had always denied any involvement. He says the two grew up together - Fenech is the younger by three years - and that his cousin had never shown any signs of racism and violence. 



‘Scicluna told me he fired shots'

10.50am Dylan German, cousin of one of the accused, is currently testifying. He says that Lorin Scicluna opened up to him about the murder after asking his advice about busting up a gun barrel.

German says Scicluna told him he had been at work at the pastizzeria before having a drink, going home and fetching his gun, driving to Ħal Far for the murder. He said he had had a drink too many, that he had shot eight or 10 rounds at several black people, and that Francesco Fenech (German's cousin) had been with him. 


German describes co-accused Lorin Scicluna as a ‘Nazi’

10.40am The witness says Lorin Scicluna had a semi-automatic pistol he sometimes used when they went to the shooting range together, while other times they would use weapons loaned at the facility.

But he says Scicluna once made a comment about a black passer-by, which made him think of Scicluna as a "Nazi". Another time, Scicluna asked him for advice on how to bust up a gun barrel, which the witness says he strongly advised him not to do because of the danger. The witness says Scicluna never told him his intentions, but that he realised there was something wrong. 


Dylan German, cousin of accused Francesco Fenech testifies

10.35am Dylan German, Francesco Fenech's cousin, is the next to testify. He identifies the two accused - his cousin and Lorin Scicluna - in the courtroom. He says he met Scicluna for the first time on April 20, when he and his cousin helped him to restart his white Toyota Starlet, which had run out of fuel. He and Scicluna soon realised they shared a passion for weapons and kept in touch, occasionally going to a shooting range together.  


Officer retraced suspect's steps - and filmed it 

10.30am Superintendent Josric Mifsud tells the court that investigations revealed that another person had hit in the same stretch of road and suffered grievous injuries, and that Francesco Fenech was the person in the car with Lorin Scicluna.

The police officer says he accompanied Scicluna to Attard, to the pastizzeria where he worked, and traced the route the accused had taken on that fateful night. The officer filmed the entire route, step by step. He hands the footage to the court. 


Taxi driver first to see victim Lassana Cisse

10.25am Police also spoke to taxi driver who first spotted the fatally-wounded man, and called emergency services, but had left the site because he did not feel comfortable. 


Superintendent Mifsud describes ‘copious’ blood at scene

10.20am Superintendent Josric Mifsud testifies that on April 6 he had a call late in the evening about somebody dead in Triq tal-Ġebel. On site, he saw a copious amount of blood trickling down, and a walkman still playing music.

Two other victims, who both survived, had been taken to hospital for treatment. One, Ibrahim Bah, told police they heard petard like sounds and saw a white car, before he was hit by a bullet in his rear. The other victim, Mohammed Diallo, was struck in his pelvic area. The autopsy on Lassana Cisse revealed a bullet which fell out when the brain was removed.


Defendants Francesco Fenech and Lorin Scicluna enter court

10.15am The two men accused of the murder, Francesco Fenech and Lorin Scicluna, are now in the courtroom, both wearing black suits. Superintendent Josric Mifsud, who was at the scene on the night of the murder, is taking the stand.


Court opens on 3rd day of murder trial

10am The courtroom is open and people are seated. The two suspects have yet to be brought in, however.


Highlights from the last hearing

  • Francesco Fenech admitted to taunting migrants but denied shooting them
  • Lorin Scicluna feared migrants were taking over
  • Shots appear to have been fired from driver's side of white Toyota
  • Soldiers wanted to burst pistol's barrel

Lawyer Franco Debono is appearing for Scicluna, and Kris Busietta, Giannella de Marco and Stephen Tonna Lowell for Fenech. Inspector Keith Arnaud is prosecuting. Nadia Attard is appearing for the Attorney General's office. 

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