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What happened on... August 16

On this day 10, 25 and 50 years ago...

10 years ago - The Times

Saturday, August 16, 2008

‘The robbers threatened to cut off my fingers’

It was his engagement in a “battle of the wits”– even feigning heart attack and concussion – with his three gun-wielding aggressors that saw Labour MP and surgeon Anthony Zammit survive a two-hour-long, violent robbery at his Żebbuġ home in the early hours of Tuesday.

In between being beaten and gagged and having a sawn-off shotgun menacingly pointed at his forehead, Mr Zammit told The Times he managed to keep his wits about him and play a mind game that allowed him to gather information on his aggressors, including the name and nickname of two, which he even addressed them by during the attack.

The three men have been captured on CCTV footage entering Mr Zammit’s house, bang in Żebbuġ’s main San Filep Square, with a key – it takes them a mere 40 seconds to get in, he says.

One is even seen going back out to fetch his carnival mask from the nearby car 15 minutes later, and the three are caught exiting two hours after, in which time, they beat Mr Zammit and even threatened to cut off his toes and fingers. He recalls them asking him: “What shall we start with?”

Mr Zammit maintains the robbers were commissioned by whoever got hold of his house key.

25 years ago - The Times

Monday, August 16, 1993

Fireworks factory blows up

Twenty fireworks enthusiasts will have cause for ever to remember the feast of the Assumption this year. For a powerful explosion flattened half of St Sebastian Fireworks Factory of Qormi less than half an hour after they left.

As things turned out, no one was anywhere near the factory when it exploded in a parched, peaceful valley just before midday. The cause is unknown.

The explosion ripped through a store in the magazine area and brought down three or four nearby processing rooms. Other rooms survived.

The pyrotechnics which exploded were what remained from the feast of St Sebastian celebrated in Qormi a month ago – the factory does not supply other parishes with fireworks.

The factory was built 14 years ago and is licensed.

“There never was even the smallest incident before,” a spokesman for the committee said.

Fireworks enthusiasts held a party there a week ago and the committee was due to have met on the site yesterday morning but, fortunately as it turned out, postponed the meeting.

Half a century ago - Times of Malta

Friday, August 16, 1968

Court orders confiscation of slot machine 

Magistrate Dr C. Schembri has fined Benny Muscat, 28, of Sliema, £105 and ordered the confiscation of a slot machine which was found in his possession.

Muscat, as proprietor of the Whisper Knight Club in Mosta, was charged with having had in his possession an ‘Astor’ slot machine on which duty had not been paid and the importation of which was not allowed by law.

Guilty of unlawfully driving father’s car

Joseph Caruana, 17, of Pietà, has been found guilty by Magistrate Dr J. Soler of unlawfully driving his father’s car and was released on condition he  would not commit  another offence within 12 months.

Caruana has been charged with having driven a car without the consent of its owner, Michael Caruana (his father), of having driven the car when not in possession of a driving licence and without being covered by a Third Party Insurance policy. He was also charged with having driven negligently. 

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