Accused in human trafficking case had wanted to study at Oxford

'What is the truth,' prosecution asks

As the trial by jury of the alleged mastermind behind a case of human trafficking entered its third day, the court heard the submissions of the prosecution.

Ethiopian born Hadish Abayu, 58, sat passively in the dock assisted by his Arab-speaking interpreter, as the prosecution recalled that fateful day in September 2005 when the accused, together with 180 other immigrants, crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Malta.

That was a time when boatloads of desperate migrants regularly landed on Malta’s shores, the prosecution remarked. Today, 10 of those men who had been on the boat and who later reported the accused to the Maltese authorities, as the man who had allegedly organised the voyage, had been reinstated in other countries. This was the reason why their testimony had been produced in written form, the lawyer explained.

The prosecution stressed the fact that there were 10 witnesses who had all testified against the accused. "What interest did they have to incriminate him? What did they stand to gain? Nothing!" the prosecution declared. The witnesses were kept in detention and were not granted any formal documents by the authorities. After testifying, they had been escorted back to the detention centre.

The jurors were also asked to note that the 10 men had supplied first hand evidence and had indicated specific names.

"What is the truth?" the prosecution continued, addressing the jurors who were bound to decide upon the facts of the case.

Focusing upon the financial background of Mr Hadish, the lawyer pointed out that although he alleged to have been in dire straits, he had nonetheless intended to move to England and study at Oxford. "How could he afford such tuition fees?" the prosecution asked. The accused had declared that he had intended to work part time so as to finance his studies, the jury was reminded.

The prosecution questioned the fact that the accused had been living in Switzerland together with his wife and four children. "How could he afford to live in such an expensive country?" the lawyer observed. The accused had alleged that his wife's relatives had sent money from Australia but this fact had not been proved, the prosecution argued.

"Show me the documents to prove your claims," the lawyer insisted.

Madam Justice Edwina Grima adjourned the trial. Lawyer Vincienne Vella is prosecuting. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is defence counsel.