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Update: Two soldiers in the Armed Forces of Malta have been arrested in connection with the murder of the Ivorian national Lassana Cisse Souleyman, 42, and attempted murder of two other men on 6 April, 2019, in Hal Far.

MaltaToday reports that it’s sources confirmed that the two men are Francesco Fenech of Zejtun, who joined the army in 2018, and Lorin Scicluna, of Paola.

Photo OneNews

Update: Archbishop Charles Scicluna: Great sadness, shock and shame as we confront the true evil face of the xenophobia, hatred and sense of impunity that poison a number of us Maltese: soldiers arrested for killing Ħal Far migrant ‘because he was black’

Update: President George Vella expressed sadness at the news and urged people not to rush to judgement or to use the news to tar all of Malta’s disciplined forces with the same brush. 

He offered Malta’s migrant community his condolences, saying “this act does in no way reflect the sentiments of the Maltese and Gozitan people,” and warned against hateful, xenophobic rhetoric. 

“An incident like this should make us reflect deeply and at length, and should steer us to hold a sincere dialogue on the future of the country as a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and tolerant society,” he said. 

Update MEP candidate Miriam Dalli: HateCrime has no place in #Malta. Neither has HateSpeech. Well done to the The Malta Police Force for solving the cold-blooded murder of an Ivorian immigrant. This is the time for us to unite together because these islands are and should remain a place where people can live safely together.

Update – NGOs reaction

In a statement, three NGOs commended the work carried out by the police force in bringing to justice those responsible for this crime.

“We are both relieved and angered to receive news of the arrest of a suspect for the murder and attack… and trust that the second will be captured as soon as possible,” said a statement by Aditus, the Jesuit Refugee Service and Integra Foundation.

“Lassana was specifically targeted and murdered in cold blood because of his colour. This was a racially motivated hate crime, an act of violence that must send a shudder through the body of every one of us. We hope that this arrest will bring some peace of mind to the family of Lassana, and also to Mohamed and Ibrahim, the two survivors who are still coming to terms with what happened to them, and who may never recover from this vicious attack.” 

They said hate festers and betrays us all, including the perpetrators of this despicable and senseless act of violence.

“We urge the authorities, and everyone, to do everything they can to prevent hate crime now and in the future.”

Update: Reaction of Caritas Malta : “Shocked and deeply saddened by the news that the death of Lassana Cisse and the injury of another two immigrants is showing to be racially motivated. Our prayers are with their families and all the immigrant community. We also pray for those who harbour hate. Hate breathes hate and leads to our destruction. We thank the multitude of law abiding immigrants in Malta for their contribution to our society. We wish and pray that out of this tragedy comes more care, support, love and appreciation and more justice to immigrants who are exploited or live in poverty and dire conditions.” (Facebook)

Update : Reaction of Arnold Cassola : The implication of two members of the armed forces of Malta in the killing of Lassana and the injury of two other human beings comes as shocking news to all of us. Bad apples exist everywhere and anytime, but having two soldiers -whose mission is to protect all of us- consciously involved in hate actions and killings is really too much to digest. Those politicians who have fanned racial hatred through their white supremacy theories or apartheid proposals -like separate public buses for non-white people- have a lot to answer for. In the meantime, my thanks and gratitude goes to all the law abiding and peace loving members of our armed forces, who are there daily to protect us all from the hatred that a small minority has propagated. (Via Facebook)

Update: Reaction of PN Leader Adrian Delia : PN fully condemns hate crime, racially motivated violence and racial discrimination in all its forms. We demand an urgent, independent, transparent and thorough investigation.This is not the Malta we want. Much work is to be done to make Malta a truly safe place. (Twitter)

Update : Second suspects has been arrested (Net News)

Updated with reactions from Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and MEP Candidate Roberta Metsola 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat : “I would like to thank MaltaPolice Force solving this important case of the cold blooded murder of an Ivorian immigrant. The 2 persons who were arrested do not represent the ethos of the Armed Forces, who are doing very important work for our society. There is an ongoing internal investigation along with other security services, to determine whether these are isolated, rogue individuals, or part of something wider. The conclusion of this investigation shows that Malta is a safe place for everyone, and it should remain so. Words of hatred and division have no place in our society. It is a strong signal to all those who spread hate speech.There are consequences to spreading such ill placed sentiments. We remain steadfast in our call for unity among the Maltese and all those who live in Malta (Twitter)

MEP Candidate Roberta Metsola : This is absolutely sickening. We have to fight ugly racism at every level of our society. Call out those dog-whistle politicians, stand up against discrimination, never accept that these heinous crimes occur in 2019 in our Malta. (Twitter)

Earlier

The Times of Malta reports that two soldiers are believed to be behind the drive-by murder of a migrant in a brutal shooting which left two other men injured in Ħal-Far last month.

The report adds that one of the men is under arrest and the other has an arrest warrant but is still on the run, sources said on Saturday.

Net News reported that the police was close to conclude the investigations related to this case, which is believed to be the first racially-motivated murder in Malta, with sources close to the investigation saying that one of the accused had admitted to targeting the migrants “just because they were black”.

MaltaToday reports that police have a confession in their hands that connects one AFM soldier to the attempted murder of another man, three months earlier: a 17-year-old migrant from Chad, May Malimi, run over in a deliberate hit-and-run and left unconscious by the side of the same road.

The Malta Independent reports that sources close to the investigation saying that one of the accused had admitted to targeting the migrants “just because they were black”.

The victims were walking from Birzebbugia and into Hal Far on the Triq tal-Gebel at 11pm when shots were fired from a car, suspected to be a white Toyota Starlet.

The other two victims were a 22-year-old from Guinea and a 28-year-old from Gambia. All three were migrant workers.

TVM reports that the army highest officials are investigating the matter, taking the case seriously and stated it doesn’t reflect the spirit and values of the army.

Media reports so far:

 The Times / Net News / MaltaTodayMalta Independent / TVM / One News/ iNews / LovinMalta/ Newsbook / Illum