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One man, many names

Confusion may not be an issue

Muhammed, Mamadou and Zoto.

Muhammed, Mamadou and Zoto.

He was Muhammed to the authorities, Mamadou to his mother and Zoto to his friends.

The death of 32-year-old Malian Mamadou Kamara on Friday night led the police to swiftly charge two soldiers with his murder.

Family members and close friends insisted his name was Mamadou Kamara. However, the charge sheet presented in court listed him as Muhammed Abdalla.

Could confusion over the name lead to the prosecution’s case being dismissed due to a charge sheet error?

Charge sheet incongruities have led to two high-profile cases being dismissed over the past year. In one case, a mistake in venue of the crime led to the acquittal of disgraced priest Godwin Scerri for sexual abuse.

More recently, a charge sheet listing the wrong date and time led to three policemen and a bouncer being cleared of beating a student in Paceville.

“It’s a tricky one,” admitted criminal lawyer Stefano Filletti. “A charge sheet needs to be extremely precise if it is to be valid. The charge (murder) is very clear and the fact that the police have Mr Kamara’s corpse means that the confusion over his name may not be an issue.”

“But it all depends on how important the court decides the victim’s identity is to the case,” Dr Filletti added.

Fellow lawyer Patrick Valentino was less concerned about the issue, arguing that any eventual witnesses could confirm that Mr Kamara and Mr Abdalla were one and the same through the simple use of a photo. According to Dr Valentino, “the victim will have been registered and photographed by the authorities upon his arrival in Malta, so confirming his identity should not be a problem”.

Attorney General Peter Grech mentioned one such registering system, the EU-wide Eurodac, which allowed governments to compare different asylum seekers’ fingerprints.

He noted that the incongruity in names was not unusual in cases concerning migrants.

“Courts often come across such situations. It isn’t out of the norm for a migrant to be known by multiple names,” Dr Grech said.

He calmed concerns about Mr Kamara’s multiple names. “If the prosecuting team realises that the victim was known by more than one name, they may choose to amend the charge sheet to reflect that.”

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