Two soldiers who stand accused of murdering a migrant in a Detention Service van were granted bail today against a deposit of €9,000 each and a personal guarantee of €30,000 personal guarantee .
The decision was taken by a court after hearing two days of evidence.
In today’s sitting, an army officer who was in charge of Safi detention camp told the court today that faced with a situation similar as that faced by the soldiers who arrested migrant Mamadou Kamara, he would not have acted differently.
Lt Nicholas Camilleri was giving evidence after the court heard how Kamara had been violent and had bitten and head-butted one of the soldiers.
One of the soldiers had put his whole body weight on Kamara to hold him down, but he still got up, whereupon he was kicked ‘about five’ times on his lower body by one of the soldiers. The soldiers had no handcuffs with which to restrain the migrant.
The evidence was given during the compilation of evidence against Sgt Mark Anthony Dimech, 44 and Gunner Clive Cuschieri, 29, who stand charged with murdering Kamara.
A third soldier, Lance Corpral Gordon Pickard, 35, is accused of obstructing the course of justice.
Among those who gave evidence today were Police Inspector Keith Arnoud, who led the police investigation, a number of soldiers and Kamara’s former girlfriend and mother of his child.
Inspector Arnoud repeated evidence given yesterday during the proceedings against Pikard. He pointed out that when Kamara turned up at Floriana health Centre on the afternoon of June 29 he was accompanied by another migrant, whom the police were still trying to identify and track down.
Kamara refused to give his personal details, leading the health centre staff to become suspicious and call in the police, who arrested him.
Once taken to Safi detention centre, Kamara acted irrationally, singing dancing, staring and pilfering other migrants’ items. Some 40 migrants complained that they could not stand him.
He was taken to a health centre once more and it was decided that he would be seen at the hospital’s psychiatric unit the next day.
Back at Safi, he suddenly made a rush to the gate and opened it violently, throwing a soldier to the ground.
He then escaped to Safi.
The accused Dimech and Cuschieri caught up with him in a Detention service van and Pickard joined them in his car.
Kamara put up fight and Sgt Dimech had to pin him to the ground, using his bodyweight. He got up again and as he grabbed him from behind, Cuschieri kicked him about five times in order to restrain him.
Cuschieri himself admitted to the police that he had kicked the migrant to restrain him. He said he aimed at his thigh but did not know where he hit him. An autopsy report showed how Kamara died from blows in his genital area.
The soldiers put Kamara in the back of the van but had no handcuffs. By the time they arrived back at the detention camp. Kamara was unconscious. At Safi they asked for handcuffs.
Two Detention Service officers, Frans Scerri and Marco Cuschieri in their evidence said they saw Kamara lying on his side in the van and not moving. They handed the handcuffs to Pickard. Pickard handcuffed his hands and Dimech his feet
Pickard then ordered the Detention Service officers into the van with the migrant The soldiers briefly disappeared in an office before returning. They got in at the front of the van and drove to Paola health centre, where Kamara was certified dead.
Scerri said it was Pickard who came up with the idea that they should agree on a story that the migrant resisted to the end. However Cuschieri said it was Sgt Dimech who came up with the plan.
The court was told that Kamara had bit Dimech on one of his hands and also head-butted him. He also had injuries on his forearms.
Mary Seguna, Kamara’s former girlfriend, said she had not seen Kamara since the first month of her pregnancy, and their child was now seven months old and she registered him under another man.
Lt Camilleri, replying to questions by the defence, explained how the soldiers had no handcuffs and faced with a similar situation involving a violent man, he would not have acted differently.
The court was also told about conditions at Safi camp, where in one block, 195 immigrants were overseen by five or six unarmed officers who only had a pair of handcuffs.
Gunner Christopher Parnis praised Sgt Dimech for having once rescued a migrant from a burning building during a riot.
Detention Service Officer Aronne Gravina said Sgt Dimech was well respected even by the migrants and whenever there were disturbances he sought to defuse the tensions, and often succeeded.
Dominic Seguna, a Detention Service officer, said that had Kamara been left at the Safi detention centre,he would have ended up as ‘a black omelette’ because the other migrants were ‘ready for him’.
Drs Joe Giglio and Franco Debono defended the accused. At one time during questioning Dr Debono criticised former Health Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici for his migration policy as he asked questions on the conditions at Safi detention centre.