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Lawyer recounts assault in Paceville

A lawyer yesterday told a court how he ended up in hospital, with a fractured skull, after he intervened to stop a fight between his friend and a group of younger men in Paceville earlier this month.

Looking at the magistrate through bloodshot eyes, Mark Bencini said he suffered several fractures to the skull and an internal haemorrhage when he was beaten up but could not recall who had assaulted him.

He was testifying before Magistrate Miriam Hayman in the compilation of evidence against university students Mark Meli, 19, of Swieqi and Karl Ebejer, 20, of St Julians who are pleading not guilty to his attempted murder.

Dr Bencini said that on August 10 at about 11.45 p.m. he went to meet his friends, Karl Muscat and Chris Gauci, in Paceville. As the three friends were together Mr Meli passed by and pushed Mr Muscat who turned around and told him (Mr Meli) to watch his step.

The two men started arguing and Mr Meli then told Mr Muscat: "Why don't you punch me if you're so good?". But, Dr Bencini said, instead of punching him, Mr Muscat pushed Mr Meli.

Seeing that things were heating up, Dr Bencini said he pulled Mr Muscat away and told Mr Meli's friend, Mr Ebejer, to take his friend away. He said he had never seen the young men before.

Dr Bencini and his two friends then headed towards Plush, a bar situated about 40 metres away. They went inside the bar and, after some time, decided to move to another bar - Seven Rooms.

"When we were still outside Plush I saw Mark Meli, Karl Ebejer and Michael Magri Overend walk towards us, in a hurried and somewhat rough manner.

"They started arguing with Karl Muscat and I intervened to calm down the situation, telling them that what happened before was the past now.

"Then someone hit me on the head. My memory is not very clear. I think it was Michael Magri Overend but it could have been another of his friends. Then I lost consciousness. That's all I remember," he said.

He said he spent about four days in hospital, having suffered several fractures to the skull, one of which, he was told, will never close.

He also suffered an internal haemorrhage. Since the incident he suffered from regular headaches and nausea and also loss of memory. For the time being he could not go back to work and he could not practise sports or drive.

Police Inspector Carlo Ellul testified that, after being informed that there had been a fight in Paceville, the police learnt that the incident was sparked off when Mr Muscat and Mr Meli bumped into each other.

The police also learnt that Dr Bencini had been seriously injured in the head.

Officers spoke to Mr Ebejer, Mr Meli and Mr Magri Overend. Mr Ebejer admitted to his involvement in punching Dr Bencini and kicking him.

Mr Magri Overend said he did not hit anyone but that he was punched in the nose when he intervened to stop the fight.

Lawyers Emmanuel Mallia and Giannella Caruana Curran were defence counsel.

Lawyers Leon Bencini, Michael Sciriha and Ian Farrugia appeared in parte civile.

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