Updated - Adds more evidence - A 29-year-old Romanian man is standing trial for causing the death of a Sudanese man who died after suffering brain haemorrhage after being punched in the face in Paceville three years ago.
Antonel Dobre, who lives in Swieqi, is pleading not guilty to seriously injuring 24-year-old Osama Al Shazliay Saleh - known to his friends as Sunshine - on March 17, 2012. The prosecution is claiming that these serious injuries led to Mr Saleh's death three days later.
Mr Dobre sat in the dock flanked by two interpreters - one translating from Maltese to English, and the other from English to Romanian.
This morning the lawyers Kevin Valletta and Nadia Attard, from the Attorney General's office, read out the bill of indictment to jurors in the trial presided by Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi.
According to the bill, on March 17, 2012, at 6.30am police were informed that a man had been seriously injured following an argument at Clique Bar in Paceville. The victim was 24-year-old Sudanese Osama Al Shazliay Saleh.
Police investigations revealed that the incident started when Mr Dobre's friend, Radu Rica, had an argument with Mr Saleh. The argument started when Mr Rica was going to the bathroom at the bar and he bumped into Mr Saleh. As a result, Mr Rica suffered a nose bleed.
Mr Rica told Mr Dobre what had happened and, after a while, they left the bar. While they were outside Mr Saleh walked up to them and Mr Dobre punched him strongly in the face. Mr Saleh fell to the ground, hit his head against the pavement and lost consciousness.
It turned out that Mr Saleh fractured his skull which resulted in brain haemorrhage and he died on March 20.
During the compilation of evidence, held in the Magistrates' Courts in 2012, the court had heard how Mr Dobre left Malta for Romania some five hours after the incident. His departure, however, was planned and not an 'escape'.
Once he learnt that the police were looking for him, Mr Dobre bought a plane ticket to Malta and was actually at the airport in Romania on his way back when he was arrested on the strength of a European arrest warrant.
Police Inspector Carlos Cordina said that on March 17, 2012, he investigated the case that resulted in the death of Mr Saleh. CCTV footage in the area was gathered and one of the cameras - of Pizza by Luca situated close by - showed
Mr Saleh walk out of the bar at about 6.30am alone. He was seen talking to others near the pizza place and, after about two minutes, he seemed to be notice something.
He looked down the road towards the bar entrance where there were two men and he walked towards them. There seemed to be an argument with one of them. The other man then hit Mr Saleh who fell, face up on the ground and remained motionless.
A commotion ensued and one of the two men went to check on the victim.
Bouncers were seen holding the man who punched the man. The two men then walked down St Rita's steps and parted ways.
It turned out that, that day, Mr Dobre had left the island and airport footage showed him being dropped off at about 11.50am. A European arrest warrant was issued to bring him back to Malta to face criminal charges.
Dr Montalto then contacted police and informed them that Mr Rica was willing to collaborate with police.
Mr Rica said he had known Mr Dobre for about two months and, that day, they met in Paceville and spent the night together in several bars. At about 4am they went to the bar Déja Vu. Mr Rica went to the bathroom and, on the way there, a person with dark skin argued with him and elbowed him in the nose.
He told Mr Dobre what happened. Mr Dobre tried to calm him down, they had another drink and went outside. At one point the dark-skinned man went up to them and started arguing and pushing them. Mr Dobre pushed him, he lost his balance and fell, Mr Rica told police.
On April 2, the inspector continued, he was informed that Mr Dobre had been stopped by Romanian police and he was brought to Malta on the night between April 3 and 4.
In his statement Mr Dobre said he had been married for eight years and had two young daughters who were living in Romania with their grandparents. He and his wife had been living in Malta for about six months.
He went to Paceville at about 11am with Mr Rica and a Maltese friend. They went to various bars and drank.
He was on the sofa in the bar when Mr Rica returned from the toilet bleeding from the nose and said a man had elbowed him. After a while they left and, when they went outside, a dark-skinned man started arguing with Mr Rica and they started pushing one another. The bouncers intervened as did he. He pushed the dark-skinned man who fell to the ground. Even he and a bouncer fell.
There was a lot of confusion. The man slapped him and he slapped him back and the man fell backwards.
“I knew he hurt because I saw his eyes roll. I was sorry,” he said in the police statement. He went to check on him then left the scene and got home at about 7am.
At 9am he bought a flight to Romania with the help of a Maltese friend. His wife took him to the airport but he did not tell her what happened. On March 23, while he was at the airport in Romania on his way back to Malta, he was arrested.
Inspector Cordina said the accused said was he was sorry. He denied hitting the man because of the colour of his skin and said he only did so because he slapped him. He said he was very sorry about what happened.
Lawyer Roberto Montalto is representing Mr Dobre