Sion Grech had fought back against her killers, forensics show

The trial of two men accused of murdering Sion Grech, in April 2005 continues with forensic experts taking the witness stand

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

Murder victim Sion Grech had tried to defend herself during the knife attack in which she was fatally stabbed, the jury trying two men accused of her murder has was told this morning.

Medico-legal expert Dr. Mario Scerri took the witness stand as the trial by jury of 52-year-old Ismael Habesh from Libya and 55-year-old Faical Mahouachi from Tunisia, now in its second week, continued. The two men are accused of murdering Grech, a sex worker, in April 2005.

Dr. Scerri told jurors that Grech had not been killed in the field where her body was found. The victim had suffered many cuts and stab wounds all over her body - she had been stabbed in her knees, genitals, breasts, neck and head - but most of the wounds were concentrated on and above her chest.

He opined that the many wounds indicated that the victim had been conscious and doing whatever she could to defend herself from her attackers.

This also explained the defensive wounds he had found on the palms of her hands, her fingers and her broken fingernails.

The jury had already been told that Grech was stabbed 17 times.

Grech’s body had been in an advanced stage of decomposition when it was found in a Marsa field on 13 April 2005, said the forensic expert. “She had been dead for many days.”

A mobile phone, a condom and a coin were also recovered from the area where the body was found, Dr. Scerri said, but the absence of external evidence of a struggle indicated that Grech had not been murdered in the field were her body was found.

The witness had also been present for the autopsy on Grech’s body. He told jurors how during the decomposition process, hair begins to fall out and expose the scalp. This process, Dr. Scerri said, had exposed cuts on the left side of the victim’s temple, which had been made by a sharp object.

Wide, deep cuts had been made to the right hand side of her neck, he said. The court-appointed forensic expert explained that the victim had also suffered deep stab wounds to her genitals, leg and knee. Shallow stab wounds were found on her right shoulder and arm.

Dr. Scerri had also been appointed to examine Ismael Habesh as part of the inquiry, he said, finding cuts that appeared to have been made some days before. Some cuts and scratch marks had become inflamed. All of them had been inflicted at the same time, he established.

There had been cuts on the palm of his right hand, related to drug taking, and bruise caused by blunt trauma that he estimated as having been around four days old. Habesh’s right hand also had cuts inflicted by a bladed instrument. All of his injuries were classified as slight, he said.

In cross-examination Dr. Scerri was asked whether the police had given him any information about the case at the time of his visit to the scene.  Dr, Scerri replied that it pained him to say it, but in his long experience police only give minimal information to court experts. "Kemm iqarbnuk," he said. The court expert said that he acted on the instructions of, and was answerable to, the magistrate, while the police worked independently and left the experts to their own devices. 

Autopsy finds stab wound to the heart

The court also heard testimony from forensic pathologists Dr Maria Therese Camilleri Podesta and Dr Ali Safraz, whom the inquiring magistrate had appointed to carry out an autopsy on Grech’s remains.

They reported finding part of the victim’s face missing. One of the stab wounds had penetrated her heart, another had sliced through an artery.

Lawyers Anthony Vella and Abigail Caruana Vella are prosecuting on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Ishmael Psaila are defence counsel to Habesh. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is representing Mahouachi. Lawyer Roberto Montalto is appearing on behalf of the Grech family.

READ ALSOEyewitness told police she saw two men dragging Sion Grech to field and stabbing her