A man was jailed for 30 years on Monday after he admitted to a fatal stabbing in July 2022.
Ali Mahy Ezzo Saeed, a Sudanese national, pleaded guilty to murdering a 21-year-old Egyptian, Mahmoud Adly Qasim Gouda, in Triq Felicjan Bilocca, Marsa on July 24.
He had initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea in the Criminal Court presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera just before the start of a trial by jury.
When delivering judgment the court observed that several eyewitnesses had described how the accused had "brutally" stabbed the white-skinned 20-year old victim "ten times" with a knife.
One of them later explained how he "felt himself going crazy" as he saw the attack.
The accused dealt the blows "all over" until the victim collapsed in pools of blood.
The witness blocked the accused's efforts to get away by grabbing him by the feet while the police were alerted.
Another witness recalled how the accused "mercilessly" stabbed the youth.
He drew a knife from a pouch inside his trousers and stabbed the victim twice on the back.
Then when the victim turned round, Ezzo Saeed stabbed him on the chest.
His heart was pierced in the frenzied attack.
Pathologists who conducted the autopsy later reported that the victim suffered "hypovolaemic shock" due to perforation of the left ventricle on the left side of his chest.
After stabbing the victim on the chest, the accused still went after him, stabbing him again in the stomach.
He was ultimately restrained by other witnesses as he tried to escape.
The court observed that the accused had been convicted of a number of contraventions since he came to Malta.
He had "mercilessly" stabbed the victim, observed the judge. The court could not allow such behavour to go unchecked.
"What the accused did was nothing but a boundless barbaric act
The accused carried a knife for no just reason whatsoever and simply pulled it out and used it to attack the victim.
At no point was the aggressor himself in danger.
The court said this was a "very ugly murder and the accused must be well and truly punished."
Although the accused had changed his not-guilty plea to an admission before the start of the trial, this was not at the earliest stages of the proceedings. He had, however, spared the court from wasting precious time and public funds.
That was to be taken into consideration when meting out punishment.
But the court needed to protect society.
Although wilful homicide carries a term of life imprisonment, in this case the circumstances merited a reduced punishment of 30-years, less the time spent under preventive custody.
The accused was also fined €116.47 as well as confiscation of all his property, both movable and immovable.
He must also cover all court expert expenses.
Witnesses describe stabbing
During the compilation of evidence, a witness had described how he put his army training to good use when he ran after Saeed, caught him and disarmed him.
He even dodged him when he flung the knife in his direction.
The witness, a Sierra Leone national had described how he went to Marsa to buy food when he saw the accused “throwing a punch at the deceased”.
Both men were strangers to him but the minute he saw the accused pull out a knife, his military instinct kicked in.
“As an ex-military soldier, when I see a knife I know what it means," the witness, Sesai Abdulla, explained, speaking in English while an Arab-speaking interpreter translated proceedings to the accused.
After “the first two stabbings on the back,” there were two other blows on the victim’s chest and a fifth one on the right side of the abdomen, recalled Abdulla, gesturing to explain the location of the wounds.
He dropped his foodstuffs and called the police but there was no reply. He then headed to the Marsa police station but found “no police”.
As he rang the doorbell in vain, he heard a female voice directing him to the nearest police station at Ħamrun.
Abdulla returned to the crime scene just in time to see the victim collapse near a parked delivery van, while the aggressor made his way through a narrow passage between some trees close by.
“My friend, stay until the police come,” the witness told him.
“How can I stay?” replied the man, whom the witness identified in court as the accused.
“Yes, you have stabbed someone and you must stay until the police arrive,” insisted the witness.
The man refused, waved his knife and lunged at him. But Abdulla dodged and hit back, he told the court. The man ran off and the witness and other people chased him.
Abdulla said he grabbed the aggressor as he tried to clamber up a fence. He managed to lock his arm until he finally gave up and obeyed the order to put his knife back inside its case.
The witness said he felt “awful” as he watched the victim collapse, stretching his arms slowly forward as he lay on the ground, “a lot of blood” around him.
“How can you stab your own brother? Even if he belongs to a different race,” remarked the witness. Even when Malta, he added, he would step in to save a life.
“That is why I confronted the accused…I removed my shirt and tried to apply my safety precautions learnt in the army.”
Another eyewitness, Nigerian national Mbali Mohammed, said: “I see one of my brothers fighting with one of my brothers. I told them to stop.”
He clarified they were not actually ‘brothers’ and that he did not know their country of origin.
As one pulled out a knife and stabbed the other, he shouted “stop!”.
“He didn’t and he did it again,” he said, explaining that the victim was then stabbed in the upper right chest.
Other people joined him in trying to break up the attack and then called an ambulance and the police as the aggressor ran away.
He said he grabbed a plastic object to defend himself against the armed man and ran after him.
He was present when the accused was finally cornered and then handed over to the police.
The victim fell to the ground, blood everywhere, as he and others tried to save him.
“I felt sorry. When we saw him lying there, we decided to confront the accused.”
He described the weapon as a long knife.
“I saw it, real with my eyes…We tried to remove it so he would not kill another person.”