The lead suspect in the Sliema murder case has been discharged from state mental health hospital Mount Carmel and being interrogated by police.  

It is not yet known what staff at the Mount Carmel Hospital have concluded about the mental health of Abner Aquilina but he was cleared on Wednesday to continue being questioned by police.

He is expected to be charged in the coming days with the murder of 29-year-old woman Paulina Dembska early on January 2.

Police usually have 48 hours to charge a suspect or release him on police bail but it is not clear how that timeframe was disrupted by Aquilina's initial interrogation being paused. 

Over the weekend sources close to the case thought it could be weeks before he was declared fit for interrogation.

However it is understood he responded faster to medication than anticipated, allowing investigators to proceed with their case. 

The body of the Polish student was found at Sliema’s popular Independence Gardens early on Sunday, January 2. She often went there to feed and spend time with the stray cats in the gardens. 

An autopsy confirmed she had been raped and strangled. She had head injuries and marks on her neck which indicated she had been suffocated.

The police have determined it was a random killing and there were no ties between Aquilina and the victim.

Investigators had to pause their interrogation of the prime suspect after psychiatric experts were called in to assess whether he was fit to continue facing investigators’ questions when doubts started to be raised about his mental state.

Sources said the experts were called in when he repeatedly told interrogators that the devil spoke to him on the night of the murder and that it had been he that “ordered him” to commit the crime. 

Aquilina told police that he was “doing God’s work” but the devil had entered his thoughts when the violent attack occurred. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us