Updated - Adds testimony below - A Libyan man would have managed to murder his former wife without leaving any trace were it not for DNA evidence and technological advances which exposed his whereabouts on the night of the crime, jurors were told this morning.

Lawyer Philip Galea Farrugia from the Attorney General’s Office was making his opening address in the trial by jury of Nizar El Gadi. The man, 36, is accused of the murder of lawyer Margaret Mifsud, on April 19, 2012. She was found choked in her car at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq after a night out with her friends.

Dr Galea Farrugia who is leading the prosecution, said the accused tried to create an alibi, as he was aware he would be a prime suspect due to his troubled relationship with his victim.

He noted how Mr El Gadi used to brag with the victim that he was capable of committing a perfect murder, without leaving any trace. 

“He almost succeeded, but he did not take into account certain technological advances,” the prosecution said.

Dr Galea Farrugia remarked how on the night of the crime, the accused was tracked through his mobile phone as he followed the victim till the very end. Footage from CCTV networks had also been found.

Additional evidence of his movements was gathered through various wi-fi networks he had logged into while waiting for the victim outside a Xemxija restaurant where she was with her friends.

The prosecution also told jurors, that “fresh” traces of the defendant’s DNA were found underneath the victim’s nails. This was very significant as a few hours before the victim touched some finger food.

The court heard how the victim had met the accused when she was still a law student. They soon got married and had two daughters.

“Though she was genuinely in love with him, he had other motives as he wanted to get Maltese citizenship," the prosecution said.

Nizar El GadiNizar El Gadi

Dr Galea Farrugia added that the accused was a womaniser and this was just a marriage of convenience to the point that it was eventually declared null.

However, the victim still wanted her children to remain in touch with their father, and they used to communicate via internet, as he had lost his citizenship and been deported to Libya.

A few years later, the relationship improved and the victim had given her consent for him to return. At that point he started living at the residence of the victim’s parents.

Things took a turn for the worse once again as the accused resorted to his violent habits.

Less than a month before she was killed, on March 24, 2012, the victim had filed a report that the accused had tried to strangle her. She expelled him from her parent’s house. 

The accused did not accept this decision and started to harass his former wife, pleading to be allowed back.

Two days before the murder, on April 16, 2012, while the victim was picking up her children from school, the accused appeared out of nowhere and forced his way into her car. He insisted that they to go to a playground but the victim refused.

On the following day, the same incident happened, this time when she was picking up the daughters from ballet lessons in Birkirkara. This time she agreed to take the children to Pizza Hut with him. She had even agreed to his request to take a family photo but made it clear that their relationship was over.

On the day of the murder, the accused had hired a car and even changed his mobile phone, the prosecution noted.

“Once he became aware she was going out for dinner with her work colleagues at a Xemxija restaurant, he realized this was a good opportunity to carry out his plan to kill her,” Dr Galea Farrugia said.

The court heard how the accused left home at 8.10pm and picked up her friend, Astrid Bonnici, in Buġibba. Her former husband was following her.

The victim had instructed her parents to phone her on Ms Bonnici’s number as her former husband was harassing her and so she switched her mobile off.

When the event was over at about 11.10pm he followed his former wife and forced his way into her car after she dropped her friend in Buġibba. Sshe drove to a deserted place near the Għallis tower, where she was found dead.

“Forensic evidence shows that while she was in the driver’s seat, somebody went up on her and pressed her chest so hard that she choked,” the prosecution said.

Though he created an alibi to put the police off track, his real intentions were revealed during investigations, the prosecution said.

Inspector Keith Arnaud said that the body of Margaret Mifsud was discovered at Qalet Marku at about 1.35pm, a few hours after she had been reported missing by her mother.

He testified that the night before Dr Mifsud had called her children at about 10pm. This was the last time they heard from here.
Although the marriage had been declared null, Dr Mifsud did not want to raise her children without the presence of their father and so he had been accepted him back to her parents' house.

Inspector Arnaud, testified that the accused was the very first person the police spoke to over the phone after she had been reported missing. Mr El Gadi had said that she had visited him the night before, saying she had to give him some CVs which were stored on her laptop. At the time he used to reside at Eurostar hotel in Paceville as he had no fixed address.

The inspector noted that the police had not told him that the victim had been reported missing, but he nevertheless seemed aware of this fact as he said he was worried.

He told the court that, when his former wife was found dead, the accused made it hard for the police to trace as he only turned up at the Birkirkara police station after 36 calls.

The inspector said that no signs of violence were found on the victim but from the autopsy it transpired that she had been asphyxiated by the application of huge pressure on her chest. Her lungs were bludgeoned.

Another indication of foul play was that her handbag and phone were not found, even after the area was searched.

The trial is being heard before Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi.

Martin Testaferrata Moroni Viani is defence counsel while Giannella Busuttil from the Attorney General’s Office is assisting Dr Grech Farrugia.

The trial continues tomorrow morning.

 

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