Sion Grech murder trial: Eyewitness told police she saw two men dragging victim to field and stabbing her

Police Superintendent testifies about how anonymous tip received three years after the murder led investigators to a sex worker who had seen Sion Grech being stabbed

Murder victim Sion Grech was dragged to a field in Marsa and stabbed to death
Murder victim Sion Grech was dragged to a field in Marsa and stabbed to death

An eyewitness had told police about the moment when she saw two men dragging murder victim Sion Grech into a field by her hair, where they both stabbed her repeatedly, the jury trying two men for the murder has heard.

Police Superintendent Louise Calleja gave her testimony as the trial by jury of 52-year-old Ismael Habesh from Libya and 55-year-old Faical Mahouachi from Tunisia entered its second week on Monday morning. Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja is presiding over the trial.

The men are accused of the 2005 murder of Grech, a transsexual sex worker, who was brutally stabbed to death and dumped in a Marsa field.

In her testimony before the jury, Superintendent Calleja explained that she had been assigned to the Vice Squad at the time and would regularly handle reports about women loitering with intent in the area where the murder took place.

The victim’s father had filed a missing person report after not hearing from Grech in over a week. The father had explained that the victim would spend a lot of time in the company of Habesh, who he described as a friend of hers.

Calleja told the court that the police had been unable to obtain suitable CCTV footage relating to the day of the murder. However, another sex worker who also frequented the same area had told police she had been with Grech the last time she was seen alive.

The police had spoken to Jacqueline Rapinett in 2008, after receiving an anonymous letter indicating her as a person of interest to the murder investigation. Rapinett had been in prison serving time for other offences.

Rapinett had told the police that Habesh and another man had arrived in a red car at the street where the two women worked. Habesh had alighted from the vehicle and started punching Grech, while dragging her by the hair. The other man then emerged from the car and dragged the victim from the middle of the road to a nearby field, she had told the police.

She said she had seen the two men stabbing Grech, whom she described as screaming in terror. Rapinett had then left the scene in confusion and shock, but had returned shortly afterwards, in time to see the two men leaving in the red car.

The superintendent went on to explain that Rapinett had told her that the men had noticed her presence and had warned her not to speak up, lest she face a similar fate to Grech.

Rapinett herself had testified in both the compilation of evidence as well as before the jury, but was unable to recall details of the case when she took the witness stand last week.

Earlier: ex-PC testifies about police statement issued by victim’s friend

Earlier this morning, the jury heard the testimony of former police constable Christopher Bonnici. The court made reference to the statement given to the police by Rapinett in 2008, making particular reference to a question about a certain Gejtu Scerri.

In the statement, Rapinett had described Scerri as her boyfriend and had claimed that Sion Grech had stolen drugs from his car in the week before her murder. Rapinett had gone on to state that Scerri also knew about a beating delivered to the victim in connection with this theft.

The court asked Bonnici whether, upon being given this information back in 2008, he had questioned Gejtu Scerri. The witness replied that he hadn’t. Bonnici said that he had previously prosecuted Scerri on unrelated charges about him being Rapinett’s pimp.

Rapinett had told Bonnici everything she knew after the policeman had received an anonymous letter about the murder. She had subsequently been charged with offences related to loitering and soliciting and living off the earnings of prostitution by the Vice Squad in November 2005, months after Grech’s murder.

Asked whether Rapinett had been brought to testify as a prosecution witness in the case against Gejtu Scerri, the former officer said he hadn’t.

The police investigation had not definitively established the relationship between Habesh and Faical, Bonnici said in reply to a question.

“Maybe they knew each other a little, but it didn’t appear that they were friends,” the witness said, explaining that both of the men had said they barely knew each other and had never exchanged a word.

The trial continues.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Ishmael Psaila are defence counsel to Habesh, while lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is representing Mahouachi. Lawyer Roberto Montalto is appearing for the Grech family as parte civile.