'They have just killed a policeman' - witness's phone call after hit-and-run played in court

'They have just killed a policeman' - witness's phone call after hit-and-run played in court

Car was moving when the officer went back to it after using his radio, witness says

A court on Wednesday morning heard a teenager describe the hit and run incident on May 15 that left a policeman fighting for his life.

The evidence was given via video conference as part of the compilation of evidence against 17-year-old Liam Debono, who stands accused of the attempted murder of traffic policeman Simon Schembri in a hit-and-run near Luqa on May 15.

The policeman had stopped a Mercedes driven by Debono for a seat belt infringement. Debono allegedly drove at the policeman, hitting him and pushing him under the car. He was dragged some 400 metres before being dislodged. Debono was arrested a short while later. He was arraigned on May 16 and faces a wide range of charges.

PC Schembri, 48, lost an arm and suffered other serious injuries but is now on the way to recovery.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud has already ruled that there is enough evidence for Debono to stand trial.

The young woman described how PC Schembri dismounted his motorcycle and signalled to the Mercedes behind him to stop. He lifted his visor to speak to the driver and asked him for his ID card. The driver refused to hand it over, signalling with his head.

The constable went to his motorcycle to radio somebody. Then he went back to the car.

Defence counsel asked the witness if the car had been moving or was stationary.

She said it was moving slowly and the policeman raised his arms to tell the driver to stop, but the car ran him over and then picked up speed. 

"The officer was mowed down. I didn’t see him any more. I saw something fly, it was a glove which someone picked up later," the witness said, adding that she phoned 112 to seek assistance. 

A recording of that call was played out to the witness. The caller was a female who was sobbing uncontrollably, in a highly agitated state. Yet amid the sobs one could clearly make out “Ghadhom kemm qatlu pulizija.” (They have just killed a policeman)

The court on Wednesday was also informed that court expert Keith Cutajar had found that Liam Debono's mobile phone was password-protected. He needed the password from the accused to be able to carry out his brief.

The defence formally objected because the accused was not obliged to bring forward any evidence in the criminal proceedings.

The court said that while it understood the argument of the defence, it was authorising the expert to try to obtain data. 

Inspectors PierGuido Saliba, Fabian Fleri and Chantelle Casha prosecuted. Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel. Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi appeared parte civile.