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MaltaToday 21 September 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 21 SEPTEMBER 2022 2 NEWS MATTHEW AGIUS FOOTBALLER Jeffrey Chet- cuti has filed a claim for dam- ages after discovering that his seized BMW 420M Sport's in- terior had been gutted during the time it had been in the po- lice vehicle compound. Chetcuti is accused of smug- gling fuel from sanction-hit Lib- ya together with another former football player, Darren Debono. In a judicial protest filed late on Monday, by lawyers Charles Mercieca, Gianluca Caruana Curran, Stefano FIlletti and Margo Zammit Fiorentino, Chetcuti claims the €30,000 vehicle - seized in 2020 af- ter he was also charged with money laundering-had been transported to the police's Pembroke vehicle compound in order to preserve it, pending the outcome of the proceed- ings against him. The lawyers point out that two years after his arrest, with proceedings still at an early stage, Chetcuti's car and other belongings were still seized. Some time ago, Chetcuti's lawyers had requested the Criminal Court to order that the vehicle be returned to him. The Court had imposed the condition that the car must first be insured before it could be released. However, in view of the criminal proceedings against Chetcuti, no insurance company was in a position to provide the requested cover. This state of affairs meant that Chetcuti had to find a third party who was willing to provide the court with a h y p o t h e t i c a l over property of an equivalent value to the car. After the Crim- inal Court finally acceded to the request for the release of the vehicle, on July 20 this year, Chetcuti had gone to the police vehicle compound and found that the car's doors had been forced open. All of the upholstery and the airbags had also been re- moved, the protest claims. In the judicial protest, his lawyers stressed that Chetcuti was currently presumed inno- cent and that the defendants had failed to uphold their ob- ligation of ensuring that his belongings were safe and re- served his right to file a claim for damages against the State Advocate and the Commis- sioner of Police. Ex-footballer in smuggling case claims damages after BMW gutted during police custody Loujin, young girl who died of thirst after delayed rescue, buried in Crete Jeffrey Chetcuti claimed his BMW 420M Sport's interior was gutted while the vehicle was in the police vehicle compound LUKE VELLA LOUJIN Ahmed Nasif, the four- year-old Syrian refugee that died of thirst at sea in Malta's search and rescue zone was laid to rest in Crete last Friday. Moroccan-Italian activist Naw- al Soufia who first reported the case, was present for the funeral in Crete. She posted pictures of the white coffin and called for Europe to "wash its conscience" for not preventing such deaths from occurring in the Mediterra- nean sea. Louijin, who was accompanied by her mother and one-year-old sister, was part of a group of more than 60 Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian migrants on board a wooden fishing vessel that set sail from Lebanon to Italy at the end of last August. On 2 Septem- ber the migrants started running out of basic provisions and as the fishing boat suffered a leak, they started sending distress signals. After spending days in distress in Malta's search and rescue zone close to Crete, 61 migrants disembarked in Crete. Louijin died whilst being airlifted to a hospital after she was found unconscious during the res- cue operation. Reportedly, her last words were: "Mother, I'm thirsty". Soufia explained how Louijin's mother and her sister were pres- ent for the funeral, after having survived the journey. "The trembling mother, with her eyes full of tear, continued saying 'why did they take her from me, why did they take her away from me? Why? Why?' … and she looked at me seeking an explanation which never came, because I could only hug her tightly and cry with her," Soufia wrote on Facebook. "All this pain was interrupted by the bright smile of little Mira (Louijin's one-year-old sister), to which her mother forced herself a smile to calm her down." Soufia also said that an eight- month-old fetus was buried on Friday. Last Saturday the Malta Refu- gee Council demanded an offi- cial inquiry into Loujin's death, stating that they expected Mal- tese authorities to clarify and publish the exact version of events and that anyone found responsible for the girl's death be brought to justice. It stated that Malta has a legal responsibility to coordinate the rescue of all persons found to be in distress in its Search and Res- cue Zone. Malta's SAR stretches across a vast area in the central Mediter- ranean from Tunisia to Crete. It is Malta's responsibility to coor- dinate rescue efforts in this zone by directing ships that are close by to intervene and disembark the rescued people in the closest, safest port. On Friday activists joined Archbishop Charles Sciclu- na and former president Ma- rie-Louise Coleiro Preca for a vigil organised by Moviment Graffitti in memory of Loujin and others who died at sea. Loujin Ahmed Nasif, 4, died on her journey to Europe and was laid to rest in Crete

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