River of Love pastor Gordon-John Manche has urged the authorities to offer “true help” to rape and murder suspect Abner Aquilina so that he can be “freed of the devil”.
“I want to send a message to our dear Prime Minister, his wife… we love you and often pray for you… and all those who work in justice and courts,” Manche said in a sermon at River of Love’s Ħal Għaxaq church yesterday.
“I urge you to please offer true help to Abner, who needs to free himself of the devil. We see many people free themselves of the devil in here and God uses this church and similar churches to help many people free themselves of the devil.”
The pastor said that he is ready to personally meet Aquilina, who has been in custody since he was arrested for raping and murdering Paulina Dembska at Sliema’s Independence Gardens on 2nd January.
Aquilina told police and psychiatrists afterwards that he had been possessed by the devil and a court ruled last June that he was insane at the time of the murder.
In his sermon, Manche also expressed his desire to meet Aquilina’s parents, stating that he had asked the police to put him in touch with them but wasn’t given permission.
“Abner needs serious help, he needs freedom from the grip of devils,” he warned.
“I’m not insulting him but these are the facts. He himself said that he was possessed by the devil. Abner has been seen by a number of doctors and psychiatrists but if one is possessed by the devil, then the case is not only psychiatric, but psychological, diabolical and more because the devil brings hell to your life.”
“I believe that Abner is a puppet of the devil, and God willing he finds help.”
Two nights before the murder, Aquilina had attended a River of Love service on New Year’s Eve with his friend Derek Spiteri, after which they went out to eat a pizza and returned to Spiteri’s home.
Manche said that while Spiteri had regularly attended River of Love services, that was Aquilina’s first time visiting the church and that he had arrived late and left early.
In a court sitting this week, Aquilina’s lawyer Mario Mifsud claimed that Spiteri had given his client sleeping pills and pulled his zip down in an attempt to sexually abuse him.
Spiteri denied this allegation, stating that he and Aquilina had slept in different rooms and that when he woke up, his friend was nowhere to be seen. However, he noticed that the front door was ajar and spotted a suitcase with Aquilina’s clothes that hadn’t been there the night before.
Manche described Spiteri as a “victim” and said that “everyone knew what his and Aquilina’s backgrounds were” but noted that Spiteri denied the allegation.
“It’s still just hearsay, gossip bil-pulit,” the pastor said.
He once again refuted any suggestions of some kind of link between River of Love and the murder, accusing several media houses of trying to “smear” the church’s reputation.
“Many bad things happen in Malta but wonder of wonders, the media never mentions which church, community or band club the accused goes to. However, when they attend River of Love, then River of Love must be mentioned.”
What do you make of Gordon John Manche’s speech?