During the compilation of evidence of the murder Matthew Zahra, the Court today heard how the 27-year old was assassinated in cold blood because of blackmail and usury. Jason Galea, 39, of Birzebbuga stands accused of the murder, along with Ronald Urry, 29 of Paola.
The remains of Matthew Zahra were found buried in a field near Birzebbuga last month, along with the bodies of Mario Camilleri l-Imniehru and his son Mario Jr. Jason Galea is also one of the co-accused in the murder of the Camilleris.
The first to take the witness stand this morning was Police Inspector Melvyn Camilleri who explained how Matthew Zahra was reported missing on August 15 last year. As investigating officer, he had requested a profile of phone calls and found that a number of messages were exchanged in the early morning. The police established that one of the phones used began operating on August 10 and was used exclusively to contact the Zahra.
One of the phones belonged to a woman from Birzebbuga who had lent it to her son who then had given it to Urry. When Urry was arrested, he also had the phone used by Jason Galea. Urry had explained how he and Jason Galea used to meet at Birzebbuga Labour Party club. He looked uncomfortable when questioned about Matthew Zahra’s disappearance.
The police arrested Jason Galea and a search of his home revealed 12 mobile phones and the SIM card which was used exclusively to contact Matthew Zahra.
Galea told the police that a relative of his had needed €10,000. Matthew Zahra gave him the cash and it was agreed that repayments would be made at €1,000 every month.
However Jason Galea’s relative fell back on his payments and pending interest quickly grew to €7,000.
Matthew Zahra demanded immediate payment of €10,000. He said he needed the money to pay an accomplice in a gold heist since the gold had allegedly been sold.
Jason Galea said he sold some gold and gave Matthew Zahra the €10,000.
Mona Camilleri, widow of Mario Camilleri l-Imniehru said her niece Krystal had lent her car to her uncle Jason Galea and then complained that it was returned to her in a bad state. She told Mona – “Qatlu lill dak tal-belt fil karozza tieghi.” (They killed the Valletta guy in my car). When told that Jason Galea had been arrested, Krystal replied that she was not in the least surprised.
CID Sergeant Geoffrey Gerada said in the witness stand that when Jason Galea was interrogated, he admitted to having taken part in the killing of Matthew Zahra on August 15 last year in Birzebbuga. Galea said that he drove a car to a field at Qajjenza, Birzebbuga. Zahra was a passenger in the car. As Galea got out to open the gate, Ronald Urry, who had been waiting for them behind a tree, put his hand into the car and shot Zahra twice in the head.
Sergeant Gerada said that the two men then disposed of the body in the field, threw away a blood-soaked head-rest, cleaned the car, showered and disposed of the gun by throwing it in the sea off San Lucjan Tower.
The sergeant said Galea was emotional and occasionally cried as he recounted what had happened. He said that Matthew Zahra had tried to blackmail him over a personal photo. Zahra had also been demanding high interest rate on a €10,000 loan he had given him.
Magistrate Edwina Grima presided and the sitting was deferred to the 23rd October.