A look at the gun deaths that Malta witnessed in a decade

Malta witnessed other murders by shooting besides those cold-blooded ones of Raymond Agius ‘il-Maksar’, Joe Baldacchino, Renzo Borg and Dr Carmel Chircop. Let us have a look at them.

“And then the news”, Daphne had written. “Another bomb in another car and another man dead. And I thought, there goes another diesel smuggler. Because the discernible pattern in criminal assassinations over the last few years in Malta is that diesel smugglers are blown up by bombs in their cars, and drug smugglers are shot dead by hired hitmen.”

On 1st October 2012, Paul Degabriele known as ‘is-Suldat’, “saw a person placing an object underneath his pick-up truck in Fgura.” The police later confirmed that it was a bomb. However, the following May, precisely on 31st May 2013, he was shot and killed in front of Sammy’s Bar in Marsa by a man who shot him with a 9mm pistol thrice in the head and twice in the chest. This is very similar to the shootings that Dr Carmel Chircop had received. Paul Degabriele had been interrogated by the police a few months earlier for the murder of Joe Cutajar ‘il-Lion’, who was also shot to death inside his car in December 2012. This murder also took place after the murder of Joseph Grech, known as ‘il-Yoyo’ who was also shot in the head.

On 18th February 2013, 65-year-old Ronald Galea, another businessman who owned Continental Meat Co Ltd, was shot and killed outside his Hal Far factory. Ronald Galea was shot eight times in the back and head with a 9mm pistol.

It was on 4th February 2014, when 58-year-old Joe Galea, known as ‘il-gilda’, and father of five, was shot early in the morning while he sat inside his van in Marsa. The police had confirmed to journalists that Galea had been threatened.

On 12th February 2014, Pietru Cassar known as ‘il-Hakka’, who was a ‘bomb expert’ and who, according to various reports, he “was known to have produced bombs for both main political factions in the troubled 70s and 80s,” was shot and hit by three shots in his garage, but managed to stumble out onto Triq Santa Marija in Zejtun, where he died. Cassar was gunned down with a 9mm pistol. “Four months earlier he had been arrested after the police found explosive material, small arms and ammunition inside his garage. He had claimed the weapons were for self-defence.”

On 22nd August 2014, businessman and owner of Tyson Butcher, Jonathan Pace, was shot five times in the head and back with an assault rifle while he sat in his balcony in Fgura. He died later in hospital. He was out on bail when “a few months earlier he had been charged with the attempted murder of Vince Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’ – one of the men allegedly involved in the failed 2010 HSBC heist.” He “had also been declared bankrupt by a court in 2013 after being ordered to pay over €90,000 in debts and for advertising taken out with national television station PBS.”

On 20th March 2015, 54-year-old Raymond Caruana was shot with an assault rifle as he arrived at a San Blas farmhouse he called home at the time. “Mr Caruana was known to the police and had been accused of involvement in the attempted bribery of late Judge Ray Pace.” The following day, a burnt car with an assault rifle inside was found in Rabat.

And no one noticed the pattern. Victims were all shot in the head and/or back either with an assault rifle or a 9mm pistol. A package with a bomb was involved before Paul Degabriele was killed. Then we had the murder of a ‘bomb expert’, Pietru Cassar.

And again, we had Tyson Butcher, charged with the attempted murder of Vince Muscat il-Koħħu.

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