The magistrate has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for Bojan Cmelik to face trial for the murder of well-known entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti. On Tuesday, we heard how CCTV footage from nearby outlets captured the attack, and how the knife in the suspect's holster matches the two stab wounds inflicted on Mr Chetcuti. However, there were no fingerprints found on the holster and it turns out that there was DNA from a third person found on the blade.
There is a sense that something important is going to happen. The magistrate returns and asks Mr Cmelik to stand up.
She informs him that there are sufficient grounds for the trial of the accused. Proceedings will now be sent to the Attorney General according to law. The next hearing will be on September 10.
The trial will only start once the compilation has been concluded and the bill of indictment is issued.
There are no more witnesses today and the magistrate has withdrawn to her chambers. Does this mean that there could be a prime facie decree?
Details are emerging of the links between Mr Cmelik and Mr Chetcuti. It turns out that he had been employed as a helper at Hugo’s Terrace between June and December 2016, but was fired because he did not turn up for work one day. He then moved to Bacco’s bar between March and December 2017. However, he was again fired, this time because of his 'character’, which caused endless trouble with his colleagues.
Inspector Sant also confirmed that according to the Serbian authorities, the accused's surname was Mitic, which was later changed to Cmelik. No reason for this was given in court.
Dr Psaila finds it odd that no one from the homicide squad has been present in court, but the magistrate finds that his question is irrelevant as the court is not going into the merits of the case at this stage.
Inspector Nikolai Sant is testifying, going over details that we had already heard two weeks ago from Mr Chetcuti's brother about the moment of the attack. He tells the court how after a chase to Sliema, the suspect was caught with the black-handled knife in a holster.
We learn that Mr Cmelik's eye was swollen and that he claims he had 'hit a door'.
Dr Psaila advises the court that some sections of the media have already published footage from the CCTV cameras, which the magistrate says is illegal.
The magistrate said that records of proceedings - including exhibits presented by witnesses - are by law only available to the court, the prosecution, the defence and the parte civile lawyers. She orders media outlets to remove from their online portals CCTV footage of the incident and any other exhibit or record of these proceedings, with immediate effect.
Dr Giglio says that this footage is not helping the victim’s family at all, and that the footage should not be shown as a sign of respect.
Legal aid lawyer Ismael Psaila is objecting to a man who has been walking in and out of the courtroom today - and who had done the same thing a few weeks ago. He appears to be a member of victim’s family who is still to testify and therefore cannot be present while others are testifying.
Dr Giglio mutters in a low voice: "He is angry and has reason to be so. We should be thankful that he has not yet done anything to [Cmelik]".
The magistrate chides Dr Psaila for not flagging this before.
The DNA found on the knife was analysed by Dr Marisa Cassar... and it seems that some may have been from a third person - neither the accused nor the victim. Could this twist be any more dramatic? It was found where the blade meets the handle.
Dr Giglio wants to have the samples checked to see whether they match Mr Chetcuti and Mr Cmelik.
The court has appointed an expert to take DNA samples from parts of the victim's body which were kept at the mortuary, to compare them with swabs already in Dr Cassar's possession.
What a twist! There were no fingerprints found on the holster, according to another expert witness from the forensic lab.
We still haven't heard whether there were fingerprints on the knife...
Photos at the crime scene were taken by two police officers, a male and female, from the forensic lab, who are now testifying jointly. They were also given the suspect’s beige straw hat, and photographed him at the St Julian's police station. They also collected Mr Chetcuti's clothes from Mater Dei Hospital, and sent the knife for forensic testing.
There is no sign of the family in court today. Mr Cmelik sits staring ahead, mostly looking down - but he is very calm, with no show of emotion.
After hearing about the footage of the accused, Dr Scerri now confirms that the wounds are compatible with the knife used in the attack, which was found on Mr Cmelik.
The accused allegedly twisted the knife before pulling it out. Apart from this V-shaped cut, there was another wound lower down. They had hit his intestines in three places, cutting numerous blood vessels.
The court hears how quickly Mr Chetcuti's condition deteriorated. By the evening his blood pressure began going down and the wound was turning septic. He was rushed in for another intervention.
There was, for a brief time, a glimmer of hope. The patient's condition was stable but there was a sudden deterioration, and a second operation was carried out which found there was another small puncture, close to his the intestines. As a result, there was an infection in his abdomen.
Forensic expert Mario Scerri explains how he examined Mr Chetcuti's injuries as well as Mr Cmelik. He describes the knife that was found in the holster being worn by the accused: long, pointed, with one sharp cutting edge. It was later described as having a blade which was 15-16cm long.
He also examined the suspect and apart from some old injuries, he found recent self-inflicted ones, which Mr Cmelik confessed he had done to himself while in jail. He did not test positive to drugs.
Footage from Bar Native turns out to be the most dramatic: you can see Mr Cmelik going up the steps to where Mr Chetcuti was with his brother and colleagues. He is wearing a distinctive yellow hat - which eventually helped police to track him down in Sliema. And there is a shiny object visible held behind his back. He leans forward, into Mr Chetcuti, and then runs away as his victim begins to stagger. You can then see the man running away.
You could hear a pin drop as Dr Bajada explains that he had been given a description of the suspect by the police and subsequently downloaded the footage himself from different establishments, which he collated into one video to create a sequence of events.
Dr Giglio asked whether there was footage of the suspect prior to 10.08pm as he was allegedly there earlier - but he was only seen on the footage obtained at that time, Dr Bajada explains.
CCTV footage has been obtained from three different establishments near the crime scene, one which shows the accused approaching the victim, and another of the victim. The footage lasts just a few vivid minutes, starting at 10.08pm.
The accused is clearly visible in the footage, wearing shorts and a shirt.
Court expert Martin Bajada was appointed by the inquiring magistrate to examine CCTV footage from the crime scene. He has presented a copy of his report about the footage.
Only three armed security guards in court this time - nevertheless, abnormal levels of security.
Fingerprints expert Joseph Mallia starts by taking fingerprints and palm prints of Mr Cmelik, who sits quietly, wearing a sombre blue jacket. The accused wipes the ink off his hands and returns to his seat in the dock. The testimony can now begin.
Two other security guards walk into the court a bit later.
WHAT HAPPENED SO FAR
Mr Chetcuti died on July 12, six days after he was stabbed in Paceville by a former employee on a busy Friday night outside one of his own establishments. The attack was witnessed by several individuals.
In the first hearing, on July 18, his brother Isaac recounted the harrowing moments before the alleged attack, explaining how he was with Hugo when Cmelik approached - but that they did not realise what had happened till he keeled over.
Bojan Cmelik, 35, allegedly stabbed Chetcuti,52, twice in the stomach on July 6, a busy Friday night outside one of his own Paceville entertainment establishments.
The entrepreneur died six days later in hospital, having suffered post-operation infections caused by three stab wounds to his stomach.
The suspect was arrested in Sliema after a chase and was charged with attempted murder. That charge was then converted to murder after Mr Chetcuti's death.
Who was Hugo Chetcuti?
Over the course of some four decades, Mr Chetcuti built an empire of restaurants, nightclubs and gentlemen’s clubs, and recently started branching out into the hotel business.
His eponymous brand included popular Paceville establishments like Havana, Hugo’s Lounge, Hugo’s Pub, Shadow Lounge, Rocco Club Lounge, Bacco by Hugo’s, Club H, Soho Lounge, Native Bar & Diner, Hugo’s Passion and his flagship, Hugo’s Terrace. The latest additions were a burger bar, a Middle Eastern eatery and another offering Italian food.
Who is in court?
The court is being presided over by Magistrate Marse Ann Farrugia. Inspector Nicolai Sant is prosecuting, assisted by senior inspector Trevor Micallef.
Sarah Mifsud and Joe Giglio are appearing parte civile, while Ishmael Psaila is legal aid.
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