Car bomb vic­tim was likely be­ing fol­lowed by per­son hold­ing det­o­na­tor foren­sic ex­pert

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Neil Camil­leri

By­s­tanders con­tam­i­nated the crime scene in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the blast

A foren­sic ex­pert be­lieves that John Camil­leri, the man who was blown up in his car in Buġibba on Mon­day, was likely be­ing fol­lowed by the per­son hold­ing the det­o­na­tor.

Mr Camil­leri, 67, died when his Mit­subishi Pa­jero blew up at around 7am in Triq Pader­born. The vic­tim was the owner of S&S Bath­rooms and was also in­volved in prop­erty deal­ings. No one else was killed or in­jured in the blast but bits of the 4x4 flew in all di­rec­tions, with the roof of the ve­hi­cle end­ing up on the roof of a nearby build­ing.

Dr An­thony Abela Medici, a for­mer direc­tor of the Foren­sic Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory, told The

Malta In­de­pen­dent yes­ter­day that he be­lieves that the vic­tim was fol­lowed and that the bomb was det­o­nated at a point when not many peo­ple were in the vicin­ity. Asked how he had come up with this the­ory, Dr Abela Medici said that he be­lieved that since this was a tar­geted killing, the per­pe­tra­tor would likely not have been so ir­re­spon­si­ble as to rig the bomb to blow up any­where, such as in a crowded area, caus­ing mass ca­su­al­ties.

“The dan­ger of hav­ing an ex­plo­sive de­vice go off in a pop­u­lated area is im­mense,” he ex­plained, adding that the car it­self would

es­sen­tially be­come part of the bomb. “The area around the car can be show­ered with shrap­nel. The roof of the car re­port­edly ended up on the roof of a five­storey build­ing and it could have killed or maimed some­one.”

The foren­sic ex­pert added, how­ever, that even if the bomb had been det­o­nated by a per­son who had a vis­ual on Mr Camil­leri’s car, it could have still in­jured in­no­cent by­s­tanders. “The per­son hold­ing the det­o­na­tor might have not seen a kid run­ning out of a door­way or some­one turn­ing the cor­ner.”

Det­o­na­tion by phone a com­mon modus operandi

Dr Abela Medici said that sev­eral car bombs that have gone off in re­cent times seem to have been det­o­nated by mo­bile phones. The bomb is set off when the bomber calls an­other phone that is at­tached to the de­vice. “This is a com­mon modus operandi lately but there are many ways to det­o­nate a de­vice, such as det­o­na­tors that ac­ti­vate with cer­tain move­ments. Some bombs may be de­signed to go off when the car goes up or down an in­cline, but this was prob­a­bly not the case here be­cause Buġibba is full of ups and downs.”

The for­mer crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tor said that in re­cent cases bombs had been at­tached to the un­der­side of the tar­get ve­hi­cle. As such the body of the ve­hi­cle of­fered some de­gree of pro­tec­tion to the in­tended tar­gets, who al­most al­ways lost their legs but did not al­ways die. This hap­pened in the most re­cent car bomb­ing case that took place in Marsa in Septem­ber.

“How­ever, from what I have read, it seems that in the Buġibba case, the bomb was placed in­side the car. This means that the driver lost that lit­tle pro­tec­tion and sus­tained more dam­age.”

Crime scene should be pre­served

Dr Abela lamented the fact that sev­eral by­s­tanders had dis­rupted the crime scene in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of Mon­day’s blast. This, he says, could have de­stroyed vi­tal ev­i­dence.

“It is clear from pic­tures and videos taken shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent that by­s­tanders were walk­ing around the crime scene be­fore law en­force­ment ar­rived. Peo­ple could have un­know­ingly picked up im­por­tant pieces of ev­i­dence on their shoes and car­ried them away. This could in­clude traces of the ex­plo­sive used, parts of the det­o­na­tor or pos­si­bly part of a sim card, which could be vi­tal for in­ves­ti­ga­tors to iden­tify the bomber.”

The pri­or­ity is al­ways to save lives and by­s­tanders should as­sist any in­jured peo­ple, but they should stay away if the vic­tims are dead and noth­ing can be done for them. “The crime scene has to be pre­served. I en­coun­tered this prob­lem many times along the years.”

Back to the 80s?

Dr Abela Medici said the ap­par­ent resur­gence of car bomb at­tacks was def­i­nitely very con­cern­ing. There have been nine bomb at­tacks since 2010. “The first ques­tion is why this is hap­pen­ing? Why should a per­son use a bomb, as in­dis­crim­i­nate as it may be, to get rid of an­other per­son? An­other ques­tion is whether there is a per­son, or net­work of per­sons, spe­cial­is­ing in man­u­fac­ture of ex­plo­sive de­vices.”

The foren­sic ex­pert re­called the spate of bomb­ings that gripped Malta in 1984. “There were 24 bomb­ings in the space of just three months. The bombs back then were dif­fer­ent but many of them seemed to have been man­u­fac­tured by the same hands.”

He added: “I do not know what ma­te­rial is be­ing used be­cause I am no longer part of investigations. It might be quarry ma­te­rial, py­rotech­nic ma­te­rial or hard explosives, like TNT and Sem­tex. If it is the lat­ter, than it is def­i­nitely more wor­ry­ing.”

Dr An­thony Abela Medici

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