The trial of the man accused of murdering entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti started last week, with a decision expected later today.
Chetcuti, a beloved entertainment businessman, was stabbed outside one of his new establishments back in July 2018. He died in hospital six days later.
Bojan Cmelik, 35, a Serbian national, was apprehended immediately after the stabbing and charged in court with causing Chetucti’s death. He has said little to investigators since being arrested and was indicted to stand trial for murder.
Cmelik is claimed to have attacked Chetcuti over a work dispute as he was by his companies for two periods before the murder.
An old acquaintance of the accused revealed to Lovin Malta shortly after the murder that his actual name was Bojan Mitić and he had been jailed in Serbia for his role in an armed robbery on a van in Belgrade back in 2005.
The trial is still ongoing with a verdict expected at some point this week, but there have been other major revelations so far.
Here’s a look at six things we’ve learnt from the trial so far.
1. Cmelik almost escaped during his arrest
Police investigators who tracked down and arrested the accused explained to the court how he had to be tasered multiple times in order to be subdued.
The police had spotted Cmelik on the Sliema front and had chased him and detained him in St Helen’s street, but only following a struggle.
“One of the taser probes got dislodged and [Cmelik] stood up with the officers still on his back and he was about to escape again,” one officer told the court.
He added that the police finally managed to restrain him after a third attempt.
2. His intent was described as reckless indifference
The court heard prosecuting lawyer Kevin Valletta describe Cmelik’s intent as reckless indifference. “I know I might kill, but I am indifferent,” Valletta told the court to describe Cmelik’s state of mind.
Cmelik answered very few of the police’s questions, though he did say that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
He claimed to be living on the street, though investigations later revealed that he was living with his brother in Pieta.
His brother had given the police the accused’s passport and other documents. The police also said that Europol had confirmed that Cmelik had changed his name three months before moving to Malta.
3. Prosecutors have still not identified a motive for the attack
“The big ‘why’ I cannot give to you. We will never have the motive and it is not something I need to prove as a prosecutor,” Valletta told jurors.
What he did say was that it was clear that the attack was premeditated.
“We don’t think the intention to kill was formed there and then. It was premeditated.”
He stressed however that, for the prosecution, Cmelik was guilty of wilful homicide and Chetcuti had died as a result of the stab wounds inflicted on him by the accused.
4. No fingerprints found on murder weapon
A fingerprint expert gave his testimony about the examination of the knife’s black leather scabbard, telling the court that no fingerprints had been found.
He noted that the leather was very difficult to take fingerprints off.
The knife was found in Cmelik’s possession when he was apprehended by the police with DNA testing confirming it was in fact the weapon used in the murder.
The knife was discovered in a black plastic holster that was strapped to Cmelik’s chest.
5. Chetcuti would have died immediately without medical intervention
Medical experts who testified before the court told jurors that Chetcuti would have died immediately had he not been operated upon on the night of his stabbing.
The expert said the Chetcuti’s wounds had clearly been inflicted using a sharp instrument with one cutting edge.
The knife entered the entrepreneur at one orientation before being twisted and eventually pulled out.
Chetcuti eventually died after developing septicaemia caused by the leaking of the contents of the bowel, which was perforated in the stabbing. A third perforation was found during the second operation on Chetcuti.
The defence argued that medical professionals were partly responsible for Chetcuti’s death, though this was refuted by the prosecution.
6. Stabbing lasted just eight seconds
The fatal stabbing which ultimately led to Chetcuti’s death lasted just eight seconds. This was revealed by an analysis of CCTV footage, which captured the incident in its entirety.
The video shows Cmelik hugging Chetcuti and making a number of sudden movements. Chetcuti fell to the ground immediately after.
The footage showed Cmelik fleeing the scene, with several individuals chasing him up St Rita’s steps in Paceville.
An IT expert told the court that Cmelik had been in the establishment for seven minutes in total.
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