1993 murder: eyewitness doubts delayed arraignment, court hears

Ban on name of accused

Investigators in the 1993 murder of Italian businessman Vittorio Cassone had delayed arraigning the man they believed had committed the crime because eyewitnesses had started having doubts, a court heard today.

Former police commissioner John Rizzo and police high ranking officer Emanuel Cassar testified today in the trial of the accused, whose name cannot be published by court order because he was a minor at the time the crime was committed.

The accused is charged with the murder of Mr Cassone at his restaurant in St Julian’s.

Mr Cassar recounted how Victor Testa of Ta’ Giorni had tested positive for gunshot residue, but he had had a strong alibi and the testing machine was defective and out of order.

Silvano D'Agostini, the chef at the victim’s restaurant, had been present at an identification parade and had picked out the accused.

Mr Rizzo explained how the accused had been identified in every parade as the man who had fired the fatal shot.

But the police delayed his arraignment since they believed that the way the evidence was given could lead to an acquittal prior to the compilation of evidence stage.

Judge Antonio Mizzi explained to jurors that it was always at the discretion of the police and the Attorney General whether or not to press charges.

“They might refrain from doing so should they believe that their case would not withstand the test of court."

The jury continues.

The defence is led by lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri. Lawyers Kevin Valletta and Anne Marie Cutajar from the office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.