A migrant injured in a two-storey fall and allegedly dumped on the road by his employer has testified from his hospital bed in the case.

Lamin Jaiteh is being treated for spinal and arm injuries at Mater Dei after the incident last month.

His employer, Glen Farrugia denies causing grievous bodily harm as well as a series of other charges relating to breaches of occupational health and safety and employment laws.


AS IT HAPPENED


Bail granted

9.30pm The magistrate grants bail to the accused, much to the relief of the relatives, who are in tears. 

And after seven hours, today's sitting is over. We'll be giving you a wrap up shortly.


Case for bail

9.15pm Defence lawyer Franco Debono says a person cannot be kept under arrest while the investigation is still ongoing. An inquiry could have been held to better conserve evidence.

He said the questions heard by the court today show the victim said he spoke to another individual who should have been identified and brought in for questioning. 

The accused is not an individual who is constantly brushing with criminality and now that the due process can take its course, and primary testimony has been heard, he should be released. 

Lawyer Matthew Xuereb says the accused would also be willing to suggest a protection order be issued in favour of the victim.

Prosecution rebuts the arguments and says that the witnesses yet to testify are still unknown to the police and not registered anywhere.

"Since Farrugia has chosen not to collaborate with the police, we have to rely on the victim from his hospital bed, from the little he can muster."


More workers testifying

8.11pm Jaiteh's testimony is over.

A number of workers who were on the construction site are now asked to describe the scene.


More pictures shown

7.45pm The defence would like to show Jaiteh the photographs presented earlier.

The magistrate shows him via webcam a number of photos. One identifies the stairs used to climb to the rooftop of the building site. 

Another photo indicates a site near a tower crane where some wooden planks were stacked together. 

A photo showing a rooftop and stacks of wood is where the accident probably occured, Jaiteh says.


Victim called back to testify

7.20pm Jaiteh is called back in to testify from his hospital bed. 

Lawyer Franco Debono asks him if he is sure the boss did not call an ambulance from his mobile phone.

"That didn’t happen. How could he call the ambulance with my phone? No, he didn’t."

He is asked if he recalls seeing a middle-aged man when the ambulance showed up. He doesn't. He says he remembers seeing the two women and a boy. Another person showed up later.


OHSA official on site

6.55pm Engineer Joe Borg from the OHSA takes the stand. 

He responded to an emergency call saying there was an African man lying on the ground. 

Borg said the victim was conscious but he told him he had some broken bones. 

Visiting the incident site in Mellieħa, he saw the employer's lawyer on site. He was told Farrugia would not answer questions. However, he went on to answer some questions. 

There were no traces of blood on the site, but there were at least three or four places where the incident could have happened. He goes on to display photos of the site. Some pictures show a lift shaft and a staircase with no protective covering but the official says they could not establish where the incident had happened. 


No idea where victim was taken

6.35pm Radulovic says he saw Glen Farrugia on site in the morning. 

He did not give the incident much thought, stressing he was not aware about the gravity of the fall. 

He is asked if he had received any instructions from his employers after the incident. He replies: "no".

The witness is asked if Farrugia treats him well. 

"I have no problems, no complaints."

The worker says he was not told about the height that his colleague fell from. Nor did anyone mention where the victim was taken after the incident. 

Radulovic goes on to describe the building site where the incident happened. 


Not aware of procedure

6.25pm Bosnian national Goran Radulovic, who works for J&G Construction, is the next witness. 

He says on the day of the incident he recalls a worker fell at the construction site in Mellieħa though he had never seen him before. 

"I heard the sound of somebody who had fallen down but I did not go check myself. There was commotion."

Asked what usually happens when an incident takes place, Radulovic says he is not aware of the procedure. 

He says he was wearing safety shoes from a previous job but had been given a fluorescent vest by his current employer.


Pictures and videos shown

6.10pm The court is being shown Galea's pictures as she explains how first responders and police officers arrived to assist him. She says it was distressing to witness them trying to help him.

"He kept crying, 'how could he leave me like this?'", she says.

Debono asks the witness to identify a man shown in the picture. She says it is the middle-aged man who stopped before her and called the ambulance.

She points out the British couple, who were the first to find him.

The court is shown images of Jaiteh lying on his side on the pavement and nurses trying to load him into an ambulance. 

In the video, Jaiteh is seen weeping lying on the ground and a police officer reassures him he will not go to prison. 

The victim is heard saying he has the number of his boss saved in his phone, the police ask for his phone code and boss's name.


Footage of the scene

5.50pm The witness said two police officers came so she took a step back. She heard one officer tell him: 'What this man did to you is wrong. He's an animal. All you were trying to do is work.'

Galea presents a pen drive with photographs and two short videos of the scene that she took on her phone.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono asks if they footage can be watched and the witness can talk the court through.

Now the court is working on exhibiting the footage in a way that Jaiteh and his lawyer can also follow, via videoconferencing. 


'He was in the fetal position'

5.46pm Galea said she asked the man what had happened and he told her he was working on a construction site, had fallen two storeys, his boss told him he was taking him to hospital but instead dumped him on the street. 

She said he wasn't speaking clearly so she tried not to pressure him.

"I told him, 'you’re not going to die' to reassure him," she said.

She said she thought he had a broken wrist. He was in fetal position on his left side. His right arm was broken and in pain and there was some blood. He wanted to roll over becaus his left side was going numb, she said.

"I told him not to move because I worried he might have internal bleeding and it would make it worse," she said.

"We kept checking in with him but my main purpose was to hold his hand and make sure he kept breathing."


'I held his hand and told him to breathe'

5.39pm Galea describes how she and a friend, Rebecca Borg St John, a professional dog walker, were out on a walk. 

They were in the car on the way back from Selmun, when she witnessed a man lying in the street with three people standing over him.

They stopped and approached a man lying down and asked what happened. 

A middle-aged man and a British couple, male and female, were also there. They explained that he was found on the street and his boss had thrown him there.

The man told her an ambulance had been called ten minutes before.

"I told the man on the floor not to worry," she said.

"He was panicked and crying and he was saying 'help me. help me' over again and I relaised he was in panic mode. So I went where he could see me, I held his hand and told him to breathe." 


New witness

5.36pm We're back with another witness, Caroline Galea. 


Five-minute break

5.19pm Jaiteh is tired. He has been testifying via video for almost three hours.

The court decides to suspend for five minutes so he can rest. The magistrate says other witnesses can be heard in the meantime. 


Father of two

5.10pm Jaiteh explains that he has two children to maintain. He worked in Italy but in December, work was stopped because of coronavirus and was receiving social assistance from the Italian government. 

Pressed if he came to Malta not to see his nephew but to work to provide for his children, Jaiteh says he does not understand. 


Work status

5.02pm Jaiteh repeatedly says he doesn't know whether he had permission to work in Malta legally. 

He explains that he came to Malta because he has a nephew who has been living in the country for many years and wanted to visit him. Jaiteh said he decided to stay and work.

"When I started work with Farrugia I went to Google the policy. So I knew the boss had to do a contract for you so you can get a working permit. So I asked him about it," he says.

The defence suggests that if he checked about employment, he must have been aware he was not allowed to work under his status.

Jaiteh repeats that he asked Farrugia and thought he had to take care of it.

The defence asks: "So when the accident happened you were a bit afraid because you know you weren’t completely compliant. What do you say?"

The reply: "No. He said with his own mouth that when the police came to the construction site we would all end up in jail and I kept this in my mind. I thought it was true."

He confirms that before this incident he had no idea that he was not fully compliant.  


The fall

4.57pm Under questioning, Jaiteh confirms he fell from the second floor. Asked if he was going to get a hammer, he says that he was going to ask if his colleague had a hammer.

He is asked if he went to the edge to look down and how far from the edge he was. 

Jaiteh says he doesn't know the distance and there was nowhere for him to look down. He suggests he was perhaps a metre. 

The defence repeats questions already asked about Jaiteh's work status and is rebuked by the magistrate.


Witnesses

4.54pm Debono now focuses his questions on Jaiteh's colleagues. The witness confirms there were other employees present when the accident happened. He says he would not recognise them again because it was the first time he met them there. He knows the name of only one person, who was there and whom he has asked to be a witness.


46 photos - but none of them here

4.48pm The defence say they are defending their client from an accusation that someone willfully harmed the victim. If the accident happened because of the negligence of the victim, that must be clarified, he argues.

The prosecution says they have 46 photos. The magistrate says this evidence should have been brought to the court today and asks if they can be supplied now. 

The prosecution is to see if this can be arranged. 

Jaiteh has been testifying from his hospital bed for more than two and a half hours.


Crime scene photographs

4.45pm The defence asks why no crime scene photographs were taken where the accident happened.

The prosecution replies that because police found the victim at another point and were later taken to the construction site, they do not know the exact location where the accident occurred. 

Police are still trying to identify the other person who was present at the accident to clarify the facts. Crime scene photographs have been taken but still need to be identified by the victim, they explain.


The accident

4.37pm Debono returns to the accident and asks him to be more specific about what happened. Taking him to the moment that he stepped on the wooden plank on the scaffolding, he asks how he could assume there was an iron support below the plank of wood, if he couldn't see it.

"In the construction site all these things have to be accepted safety measures," he says. "If you remove the safety measures you have to remove the workers. Because you can’t leave people up there, it would be dangerous," Jaiteh adds.

The defence lawyers consult with their client. They are trying to ascertain exactly where Jaiteh stepped.

"Am I correct in stating that the pieces of wood you stepped on were the last part? It was empty because you fell," he is asked.

"I stepped on the wood and the wood went down with me."

Asked why he stepped on the wood, Jaiteh says he thought safety measures were taken and that it was safe to step on. 

Defence suggests a drawing could clarify the matter. The prosecution asks the court to appoint an expert.


Assistance

4.32pm Lawyer Matthew Xuereb continues for the defence. He asks if it is true that someone else helped him down from the van. "No. Glen grabbed me," he says. 

Jaiteh says nobody else was present. The only people who assisted him were the two girls. 

Xuereb suggests that a man helped him before the two girls arrived. Jaiteh says he doesn't know anything about that. 

"I was in a lot of pain. I didn't see anybody. Then those two girls came. One of them was Carolina and she was with me," he tells the court. 


Prison or detention centre

4.28pm The defence asks Jaiteh if he has ever been in prison in his life. "Never in my life," he responds. 

Has he ever been in a detention centre? Either in Malta or in Italy?

The magistrate asks for relevance. 

Lawyer Franco Debono explains that the victim testified that he was afraid he would go to prison, so the defence is establishing whether he had ever been in prison or detention centre and this informed his fear of prison.

"I would like to know if he was ever in a detention centre or not. I don’t think it's irrelevant because it could be the case that he himself did not want to expose himself to the authorities," he says.

The prosecution says it doesn't change the fact that the victim suffered injuries and questions should be limited to the incident that happened.

"I don’t know what bearing the fact whether the victim has ever been imprisoned or not has on this case." 

The magistrate asks him: "Have you ever been in a detention centre?"

"No," he replies 


Round of questions

4.24pm The defence asks Jaiteh if he saw Farrugia on the site. He confirms he did.

There's a round of questioning.

Defence: Was Glen in Mellieha or somewhere else? Jaiteh: He was at the construction site.

Defence: Did someone else called Glen? Jaiteh: Yes I was wounded, I almost died. How could I call Glen myself?

Defence: What was Glen’s reaction after the accident? Jaiteh: I asked him to call the ambulance and he refused.

Defence: Did you lose consciousness at any time? Jaiteh: No. the pain was so intense it kept me alert. I was crying.


'Did you start a fight?'

4.22pm The defence asks if there was shouting in the van and whether the injured man started "a fight" with Farrugia.

"No, we didn't fight," Jaiteh replies.


Ambulance call

4.18pm Jaiteh explains that when he arrived in Malta in May, he found work at the end of the month.

Under questioning, he confirms that his colleague from Mali was the first person to touch him after the fall.

The defence suggests to him that Farrugia called an ambulance while the pair were in the van. 

"No, he didn't call an ambulance," Jaiteh replies. 

The defence repeats the question.

"No. He only told me he was looking for somewhere to drop me and call an ambulance to pick me up there."

The defence suggests Farrugia used Jaiteh's mobile to call an ambulance. He says no.

"He cannot open my mobile because I have a password."


Work permit

4.16pm The defence turns to Jaiteh's work documents, with lawyers suggesting to him that he was not allowed to work in Malta. 

"What status do you currently have in Malta?" the defence asks.

"Nothing," Jaiteh replies.

He confirms that he only has Italian documents and does not have any from Maltese authorities.


Defence cross examines

4.11pm The defence now cross examines the witness. Glen Farrugia is being represented by lawyers Franco Debono and Matthew Xuereb. 

Jaiteh explains that he worked in Italy before coming to Malta. He confirms he was a tailor previously. The defence asks how he arrived in Malta. "I came from Libya," he says. 

The magistrate interrupts to ask the defence what the relevance is of this question.


No training

4.07pm With that out of the way, we return to Jaiteh's testimony. Responding to the prosecution's questions, he explains that he had previously worked in plastering and painting on construction sites. 

He has never had any training relating to construction and building but says that he did work in plastering at home, in Gambia. 


OHSA can't act as prosecution

3.57pm The magistrate has decided the OHSA cannot act as prosecution.

To recap: the prosecution wanted to include the OHSA during proceedings, because the accused is also charged with health and safety violations. 

The defence argued that this is not the usual procedure when the accused is also facing a criminal charge. 

The magistrate has ruled in favour of the defence - so the OHSA cannot be part of the prosecution at this current stage. 


Waiting

3.53pm Magistrate Marse Ann Farrugia is considering whether to allow the OHSA lawyer to proceed. While we wait, so does Jaiteh, on Microsoft Teams. 


Should OHSA intervene?

3.43pm The defence is arguing that OHSA has their own procedure to deal with "administrative shortcomings" that can be dealt with in separate proceedings. 

The prosecution argues that the charges partially fall under the OHSA's jurisdiction. So lawyers for the OHSA would ask about those charges, and not the grievous bodily harm accusation.


Defence, prosecution row

3.28pm Jaiteh is being questioned now on behalf of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority. He is asked if he had any other work commitments and says no, when he started working with Farrugia, he had no other commitments. 

There's a row now between the defence and the prosecution over whether the OHSA should be asking questions.


Broken bones in back

3.23pm Jaiteh says he told the police the name of his employer. 

"When he dropped me off, Glen put my phone next to me at the front pocket, so I gave police the phone and told them I stored the number as 'boss'. They checked my phone and took the number."

When he was taken to hospital, he was x-rayed and had a cast put on his hand.

"The doctor tells me now that I have a broken hand and broken bones in my back," he says. "So they told me that they have to operate on my hand."


Medics treat injured Lamin Jaiteh on the side of the road. Photo: Caroline GaleaMedics treat injured Lamin Jaiteh on the side of the road. Photo: Caroline Galea


Ambulance and police called

3.18pm Jaiteh said he cried out to the girls saying, "help me, I'm dying" and they came. 

One of the girls asked him what happened and he told her he had fallen from a construction site and his boss had taken him there. They called an ambulance and the police.

"I’m not sure how long the ambulance took to get there. I know it was very hot and someone was standing over me to give me some shade," he said.

When the police arrived, Jaiteh says he was scared because Farrugia had told him that if the police came, they would go to jail.

"So I was crying and telling them I didn't want to go to jail. But the police told me no, I wouldn’t go to jail if I told them what happened," he says.


'I dragged myself to the pavement'

3.16pm Jaiteh says he is not sure how long he was left there.

"I used my elbows to drag myself on to the pavement because I was in the middle of the road," he said.

"I don’t know how many minutes passed but I was saying ‘help me help me’, I was trying not to lose consciousness, because I didn’t know where I was. And I was doing that until those two girls passed in the road." 


Glen Farrugia, right, arrives in court last week accompanied by a police officer. Photo: Chris Sant FournierGlen Farrugia, right, arrives in court last week accompanied by a police officer. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Drove off and disappeared

3.12pm The prosecution asks the victim what Farrugia's reaction was during this.

"He was a little bit, I don't know if he was afraid, doing everything quickly. When he entered his car he just drove and disappeared."


'A black guy is here on the road'

3.10pm Jaiteh said he was put on the ground and Farrugia told him, "If the police ask you, tell them a car hit you."

"Then I saw him calling someone, I thought maybe he was calling an ambulance,  I don’t know. He was saying 'a black guy is here on the road' but then he said something else I didn’t understand."


Dumped on the road

3.06pm Jaiteh describes how the van left the main road and went down a small road, "where he left me". 

"I was afraid because he said we were going to the hospital and I didn't know what his plan was or when he was going to drop me. Then he dropped me at the roadside there."

He says he was alone with Farrugia. 

"I don’t know where he stopped. I don’t know the area. He stopped in the middle of the road. He removed the seat belt. He dragged me," he testifies.

At this point Jaiteh gestures to his armpits, indicating where he was lifted.

"It was very painful. It was a pain like I'd never experienced in my life. It was my whole body, I couldn't tell where the problem was and my legs weren’t responding."


'Why are you treating me like this?'

3.04pm Jaiteh describes their conversation.

"I asked him, 'Why are you treating me like this?'

"He said, 'What can I do?' and he was quiet."


'I'm going to leave you somewhere'

3.02pm Jaiteh describes being in the car crying and asking for help. They left the building site and approached a big roundabout.

"When we reached there, he told me I’m going to leave you somewhere and someone else will get you".


Boss said he would take him to hospital

2.59pm Jaiteh says his employer asked the workers to put him on top of the plywood in the car "and told them he would take me to hospital himself". 

"He told me not to worry that he will take me to hospital,"

They lifted him, put him on some plywood as a makeshift stretcher and took him to where a white van with the company logo was parked. 

"They put me on the back. It was painful for me to sit down in the front. Glen put the seatbelt on me but it was too painful. So I went to the back and turned and stayed on my side," he tells the court.


'If you call an ambulance, everyone will end up in jail'

2.54pm At the time of the incident, his employer, Glen Farrugia, was on the other side of the building. His Malian colleague ran to tell him that Jaiteh had fallen. 

When Farrugia arrived with some workers, Jaiteh said he was in a lot of pain and suffering and was crying.

"I told them please help me, I'm dying. Please call an ambulance.... He told me 'no, if you call an ambulance, everyone here will end up in jail'."


'When I fell, the scaffolding fell'

2.54pm As he fell, so too did the scaffolding, Jaiteh tells the court.

"When I fell, this Malian guy was there. He came to grab and drag me, because the rest of the scaffolding that I had stepped on was falling down. When I fell, the scaffolding fell as well," he says.

He describes how he "couldn't get up" so his colleague laid him flat on the ground. 


'I kept falling down'

2.45pm Jaiteh explains that he needed a hammer to take out some nails from wood, so he decided to go down to ask his colleague from Mali to give him one. He describes how he was at the top, on the second floor of the construction site and stepped on the scaffolding.

"When I stepped on the scaffolding, which is under the concrete, I found nothing to hold on to and kept falling down."

He says he was on the second floor and fell two storeys. 


Many workers

2.42pm Jaiteh says there were many people there at the time but he doesn't know their names. He knows one, Bakeba from Gambia. There were four workers from Gambia there, he says, counting himself among them. There were also men from Serbia, Pakistan and Mali.

He says there were two or three men with him on the rooftop. 


Day of the accident 

2.38pm Now we turn to the accident. The prosecution asks him: "Why are you in hospital?"

Jaiteh describes how, on September 28, he went to work in the morning with his colleagues in Mosta until 9am.

Then Farrugia came with his father and told Jaiteh to go to Mellieha, where he was tasked with cleaning the rooftop and using a crane to put up concrete blocks. 

Farrugia asked him to take his break at 10am and then to continue working "parting the blocks". 


The site of the accident. Photo: Matthew MirabelliThe site of the accident. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


No safety equipment

2.34pm Asked who his bosses were, he says: "Glen Farrugia is the only one I know as my boss."

Asked about the equipment provided, he says he was given "nothing".

"I have my own safety shoes but no helmet, no jacket. When I lost my safety shoes, he gave me 40 euros to buy a pair. Then at the end of the week, he took the 40 euros back."


€50 a day, with a five-minute break

2.30pm The prosecution asks the witness if he filled in any forms. He says no. 

Farrugia asked him to begin work cleaning scaffoldings. He helped them make shutters for concrete. He earned €50 a day, working from 6.30am to 5pm, he tells the court. 

"I agreed to work every day except Sunday," he says. 

Asked if he was given a break, he says: "We have five minutes break. Others took 10am but I take my break at 12pm because I would be hungry."


Work as a helper

2.28pm Jaiteh was introduced to Farrugia by another man. "We said I would be a helper. what he asks me to do, I would do," he explains.


Malta in May

2.26pm Jaiteh explains how he came to work in Malta. He arrived in May 2021 and began working as a painter. He moved on because the pay wasn't good. On September 17, he went to look for work and found a construction site in Mosta owned by the accused, Glen Farrugia. 


Sling and back brace

2.24pm Arm in a sling, and still wearing a back brace, Jaiteh begins his testimony, assisted by lawyer Gianluca Cappitta. 


Video link to Mater Dei

2.22pm Welcome to our live coverage of a case that has gripped Malta in the last week. In an unusual move, the victim, Lamin Jaiteh is testifying in the compilation of evidence from his hospital bed. He joins us via video link.  

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