Today from Hiiraan Online:
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Bouncers cleared of attempted murder
by Juan Ameen
Sunday, May 27, 2012
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Four bouncers walked out of court as free men yesterday after jurors cleared them of the attempted murder of a Somali man during a fight in Paceville five years ago.
Anthony Azzopardi, 31, from Buġibba, David Bonello, 52, of Għargħur, Charlton Abela, 29, from Cospicua, and Roderick Attard, 26, of Kalkara, were found not guilty of trying to kill Somali Felix Idisi Oduh and slightly injuring Nigerian Olori Lucky for racial motives.
As the jury foreman started reading out the not guilty verdicts before Mr Justice Michael Mallia, one by one the strained and tense looks on the men’s faces dissolved into relief and huge smiles.
Grinning, they silently patted each other on the back and shook hands.
Family members at the back of the room began sobbing with relief when they realised the men were cleared.
Within minutes, the message reached the large crowd of friends, relatives and family waiting outside the courtroom and shouts of joy were heard.
The jury trial, which started Monday, had heard Mr Oduh wanted to enter Fuego nightclub in Paceville with his Nigerian university friend, Olori Lucky, 34, and his girlfriend, Catherine Graham, 25.
They were not allowed in and when Mr Lucky asked why, they were stopped and the prosecution claimed the bouncers pounced on him. As Mr Oduh tried to intervene, he too was hit, kicked and struck with a bottle in the neck. The cut almost severed his jugular vein and severed nerves, causing one of his eye lids to droop.
However, witnesses said Mr Lucky was very aggressive and other bouncers needed to be called to evict the group.
Mr Oduh denied he ever hit anyone while witnesses testified they saw him throw bottles and even a chair during the incident. He also admitted, under cross-examination, that he would have dropped the case against the men if he had received compensation.
The bouncers were also all cleared of assault and pushing the alleged victims to insult or hurt them, with eight votes in favour and one against.
Mr Attard and Mr Abela were also cleared of breaching the peace by eight votes to one, while Mr Azzopardi and Mr Bonello were cleared of the same charge by seven votes against two and the jury noted they acted in self defence.
Once Mr Justice Mallia delivered the judgment, the men left the courtroom to be greeted with applause, hugs and shouts of “let’s go celebrate”. The jubilant shouting could be heard from Republic Street.
Lawyers Giannella de Marco, Joseph Giglio and Stephen Tonna Lowell appeared for the defendants.
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