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DNA and mobile tracking thwarted ‘perfect murder’ plan

ByCindy J. Daddario

Oct 19, 2015

Updated – Add a testimonial below – A Libyan man would have managed to murder his ex-wife without leaving a trace without DNA evidence and technological advances that revealed his whereabouts on the night of the crime, jurors said this morning.

Attorney Philip Galea Farrugia of the Attorney General’s Office delivered his opening speech in the jury trial of Nizar El Gadi. The man, 36, is charged with the murder of lawyer Margaret Mifsud on April 19, 2012. She was found suffocated in her car in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq after a night out with her friends.

Dr Galea Farrugia, who heads the prosecution, said the accused tried to create an alibi because he knew he would be the prime suspect due to his difficult relationship with his victim.

He noted how Mr. El Gadi used to brag to the victim that he was able to commit a perfect murder, without leaving a trace.

“He almost succeeded, but he did not take into account certain technological advances,” said the prosecution.

Dr Galea Farrugia noted that on the night of the crime, the accused was followed by his cell phone as he followed the victim to the end. Images from video surveillance networks were also found.

Further evidence of his movements was gathered via various Wi-Fi networks he connected to while waiting for the victim outside a Xemxija restaurant where she was with her friends.

The prosecution also told jurors that “fresh” traces of the accused’s DNA were found under the victim’s fingernails. It was very important because a few hours before the victim touched appetizers.

The court heard how the victim met the accused while she was still a law student. They quickly married and had two daughters.

“Although she was really in love with him, he had other motives as he wanted to obtain Maltese nationality,” the prosecution said.

Nizar El Gadi

Dr Galea Farrugia added that the accused was a womanizer and it was only a marriage of convenience to the point that he was ultimately declared void.

However, the victim still wanted her children to stay in touch with their father, and they communicated through the Internet, as he had lost his nationality and had been deported to Libya.

A few years later, the relationship improved and the victim gave his consent for him to return. At that time, he began to live at the residence of the victim’s parents.

Things got even worse when the accused resorted to his violent habits.

Less than a month before being killed, on March 24, 2012, the victim filed a report that the accused attempted to strangle her. She kicked him out of his parents’ house.

The accused did not accept this decision and began to harass his ex-wife, pleading for permission to return.

Two days before the murder, on April 16, 2012, when the victim was picking up her children from school, the accused came out of nowhere and forced his way into his car. He insisted that they go to a playground, but the victim refused.

The next day the same incident happened, this time as she was picking up the girls from ballet lessons in Birkirkara. This time, she agreed to take the kids to Pizza Hut with him. She had even accepted his request to take a family photo but made it clear that their relationship was over.

On the day of the murder, the accused had rented a car and even changed his cell phone, the prosecution noted.

“Once he realized that she was going out for dinner with her coworkers at a Xemxija restaurant, he realized that this was a good opportunity to implement his plan to kill her,” said Dr Galea Farrugia.

The court heard that the accused left her home at 8:10 p.m. and picked up her friend, Astrid Bonnici, in Buġibba. Her former husband followed her.

The victim had asked her parents to call her on Ms. Bonnici’s number because her former husband was harassing her and she therefore turned off her cell phone.

At the end of the event at around 11:10 p.m., he followed his ex-wife and forced himself into her car after she dropped her friend off in Buġibba. She went to a deserted place near the Għallis Tower, where she was found dead.

“Forensic evidence shows that while she was in the driver’s seat, someone climbed on top of her and squeezed her chest so hard that she choked,” the prosecution said.

Although he created an alibi to get the police back on track, his true intentions have come to light during investigations, the prosecution said.

Inspector Keith Arnaud said Margaret Mifsud’s body was discovered in Qalet Marku around 1.35pm, hours after she was reported missing by her mother.

He said that the previous night, Dr Mifsud had called his children around 10 p.m. It was the last time they heard from here.
Although the marriage was declared void, Dr Mifsud did not want to raise his children without their father being present and so he had accepted it into his parents’ house.

Inspector Arnaud testified that the accused was the very first person the police spoke to on the phone after she was reported missing. Mr El Gadi had said she had visited him the day before, saying she was to hand him CVs which were stored on his laptop. At the time, he was staying at the Eurostar hotel in Paceville because he had no fixed address.

The inspector noted that the police had not told him that the victim was missing, but he nevertheless seemed aware of this fact because he expressed concern.

He told the court that when his ex-wife was found dead, the accused made it difficult for the police because he only showed up at the Birkirkara police station after 36 calls.

The inspector said that no signs of violence were found on the victim, but from the autopsy it appeared that she had been suffocated by the application of tremendous pressure to her chest. His lungs were clubbed.

Another indication of foul play was that his purse and phone had not been found, even after the area was searched.

The trial takes place before Judge Antonio Mizzi.

Martin Testaferrata Moroni Viani is the defense lawyer while Giannella Busuttil from the Attorney General’s office assists Dr Grech Farrugia.

The trial continues tomorrow morning.

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