On 16th July 2016, three police officers caught Emanuel Ngumezi redhanded in the act of raping a woman in a parked car in Pembroke moments after he and his friend had abducted her from the streets of St Julian’s. The victim testified that Ngumezi, a 38-year-old from Nigeria, had raped her and her version of events was corroborated by a passer-by who witnessed the rape and identified the accused in court.
However, he managed to away with a five-year prison sentence yesterday after a jury found him not guilty of rape.
The details below emerged from the police’s testimony, which was included in the judge’s final sentence. However, the trial was heard behind closed doors so further details beyond the police’s version of events cannot be made public.
How did it happen?
On 16th July, between 4:45am and 5:30am, police were informed that two men had abducted a young woman near the former Fuego bar in St Julian’s, forcing her into a Fiat Palio and driving away. People on site told police that the girl had been crying out as she was forced into the car.
Police commenced a search for the car and eventually found it parked in a remote area of Pembroke. The girl, an Italian national, was naked from the waist down and Ngumezi was lying on top of her, with his pants completely pulled down and his genitals exposed. Another man, later identified as 39-year-old Burkina Faso national Seydou Bandaogo, was pacing by the car when police arrived.
Both men were arrested and the victim was taken to Mater Dei, where doctors found evidence that she had been raped.
In her testimony to police, the victim said she had been walking back home following a night out with her friends and that she was stumbling due to the effects of alcohol. When the two men spotted her in her drunken state, they bundled her into their car and drove off.
She tried to physically fight off the men and scream for help but one of them clasped her mouth shut with his hand while the accomplice drove to a remote area in Pembroke.
The victim said she lost consciousness for a while and awoke to find herself getting raped by Ngumezi in the passenger seat.
“She said that she started screaming, crying, praying and kicking the man but that nothing would stop Ngumezi from raping her,” the court ruling reads. “It was only thanks to the intervention of the police that Ngumezi stopped raping her.”
A Pembroke resident who was taking a walk that morning also testified to having witnessed Ngumezi raping the woman and identified him in court.
However, despite the mounting evidence against him, a jury this week delivered a six-three not guilty verdict against him and an eight-one guilty verdict against his accomplice Bandaogo.
Moreover, not only did they find Bandaogo guilty of rape, but of rape aggravated by it being carried out by more than one man. This means that the jury accepted that the victim had been raped by more than one man but weren’t satisfied of the evidence against Ngumezi.
The jury’s logic wasn’t stated in court or in the judgment but there is a clear indication of what led them to make their decision. While forensic tests found Bandaogo’s DNA inside the victim, they didn’t find DNA belonging to Ngumezi, who was still raping the victim when police arrived on scene.
Therefore, while Bandaogo was sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape and a range of other crimes, Ngumezi only got five years for his part in abducting the woman and holding her against her will.
The judgement was handed out by Judge Giovanni Grixti, with lawyers Charmaine Cherrett and Simon Micallef Stafrace providing legal aid to the accused and lawyer Arthur Azzopardi appearing in parte civile for the victim.