Malta woke up to some grim news last Sunday, the second murder of the year. A 25-year-old man was slain in Marsa, his body found with a shot to his back, laying in a pool of blood near a car. But once a suspect was charged in court yesterday, it became clear this was not a calculated assassination or a crime of passion by two people who knew each other well. The victim seems to have also been the aggressor, and he was not alone. Here’s what we know so far.
1. The man who died is Sylvester Farrugia. He dropped off his girlfriend at home on Saturday night before allegedly joining two other people in an arson attempt.
Sylvester Farrugia, 25, a hospital worker from Żurrieq, was “known to the police” on drug investigations. His girlfriend Jeanette, who spoke to Xarabank, said he dropped her off at home at about 1am on Sunday morning and was meant to return later to sleep at her house. But he never showed up. The police believe he joined two other people in an arson attempt of a person he may not even have known.
2. His body was found at 5am near a stolen car. He may have been there for up to four hours.
Sylvester Farrugia’s body was found in Simpson Street, near a stolen car with stolen registration plates. The car’s windows were smashed, probably by bullet shots. According to MaltaToday, Farrugia may have been sitting in the backseat when he was shot and he could have been dead for up to four hours before his body was found. His accomplices are still on the run.
3. The murder suspect is Deniro Magri and he claimed self-defence in court.
27-year-old Deniro Magri was charged with murder yesterday, but he claims he shot Farrugia after he saw him with two other people trying to set his house on fire. The incident happened shortly after 1am while Deniro Magri was at home in St Paul’s Street, with his wife and seven-year-old son. Police have confirmed finding petrol and broken glass around the house’s facade. This was not the first time Magri was targeted with such attacks.
Magri, whose father owns New Tiger Bar next door to the Marsa open centre, was in 2007 fined €500 for illegal firearm possession after a shooting at his father’s bar. Mr Magri was deemed to have used the firearm in self-defence after a group of Eritreans who were trashing the place.
4. Sylvester Farrugia seems to have been left dead in the road after his two accomplices ran off.
According to Magri’s account, Farrugia was part of a group of three. But he was found alone some three blocks away from Magri’s house. “They didn’t take him to hospital? They simply dumped him there?” asked Magri’s lawyer in court.
5. Deniro Magri was denied bail but police protection was granted to his wife and young son.
The police said they did not want to release Magri and end up with a “war on the streets”. This was not the first threat against Magri and the police want to understand the motive before setting Magri free. Magri is being represented by top criminal lawyer Gianella De Marco.
6. We do not know whether anybody else has been questioned yet.
The police did not confirm in court whether they had spoken to anyone else about the case. We don’t know whether the two arson accomplices have been identified. But investigations are ongoing and things will probably head in that direction at some point.
7. People are concerned about the escalation of violence on the streets.
This was already the second murder of the year. The first, resulting from a car bomb, also took place in Marsa.