A man alleged to have hired two “hitmen” to attack his ex-father-in-law is the person listed as the planning permit applicant for a building that collapsed in Corradino on Saturday.
Matthew Joseph Schembri is the sole owner of WhiteFrost, a company that primarily specialises in air-conditioning supply and installation.
While the bulk of WhiteFrost’s social media posts focus on the importance of regularly maintaining air-conditioning units, in October the company put up a Facebook post advertising vacancies for full-time construction and masonry workers, as well as other related turnkey services.
WhiteFrost has also been awarded over 25 government contracts, including ones for the removal of dangerous structures and support works in government tenements, over the past 10 years.
Schembri describes himself on LinkedIn as the “director of construction” at WhiteFrost, and is listed on the Planning Authority’s website as the applicant behind the Corradino project.
Investigations are ongoing into whether Schembri or other third parties are culpable for the collapse, which took the life of a 20-year-old and left five others injured when the building came crashing down on Saturday.
JeanPaul Sofia was found dead, buried beneath the rubble following a 14-hour search.
Questions were immediately raised about the workmanship behind the building, with CCTV footage showing it buckling while concrete was apparently being poured onto the upper levels.
The government has been promising since 2019 to introduce a proper licensing system for building contractors and developers, following a spate of building collapses that year.
The licensing regime has yet to materialise.
According to The Shift News, works on the building were carried out by a Serbian contractor.
Five workers, three Albanians, a Bosnian and a Maltese were saved from the wreckage.
Architect Adriana Zammit, who works for Infrastructure Malta, is listed as the architect responsible for the project in PA paperwork.
Asked by Times of Malta if Zammit has been suspended pending the ongoing investigations, Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon said the agency will not be commenting on the incident pending the outcome of the investigations.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he was angered by the lack of professionalism within the construction sector, adding that he was speaking in general terms and not about this case in particular.
A chequered recent history
In June, Schembri was accused of hiring two “hitmen” to attack the 62-year-old father of his ex-wife as he went for a jog along the Sliema seafront.
Prosecutors described Schembri as "the brains behind" the unprovoked assault of Louis Spiteri.
Schembri was held in custody for several weeks, before being granted bail.
He denies the charges of hiring the two Albanian “hitmen” to carry out the assault.
A lawyer for the two Albanian men told a court that they had come to Malta in the hope of finding work and found someone who would employ them illegally and withhold payment.
"They ended up essentially as his (Schembri's) slaves in hopes they would find their next meal, which they ended up having to find elsewhere. We have to see who truly had to gain from this situation, whether it was these two men who attacked someone they didn't even know - they had a picture of him - or someone else,” lawyer Dean Hili told a court.