A horrifying double murder in Sliema has shocked the nation. In four minutes, Christian Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski were murdered in their home in a operation that has left the public confused and scared.
Massive breakthroughs and stellar police work led to the discovery of the stolen getaway vehicle. A dramatic shoot-off followed and now prime suspect Daniel Muka is under arrest.
With a robbery topping the list as a possible motive and three suspects still at large, here’s everything we know about the case so far:
1. What happened the night of the murder?
On Tuesday 18th August, Doctor-turned-investment-banker Christian Pandolfino left from a family dinner and went straight home to Ivor Maciejowski, who skipped the dinner because he was feeling unwell.
His sister Paula, who was spending time at the couple’s home while holidaying in Malta, made a detour for ice-cream with her children.
At 10pm Christian Pandolfino returned home. At 10.19pm, three suspects entered the residence.
Six shots were fired. Pandolfino was found in the doorway of his home with four gunshot wounds, one to his head, another to his neck, and two in the chest. Maciejowski was found upstairs with one shot to the head.
Four minutes later at 10.23pm, three men left the building in a white Volkswagen Tiguan. A fourth person is believed to be the getaway driver.
CCTV footage seized by police uncovered that the getaway car was reported stolen in Gżira two years prior. The number plates the suspected killers used were also stolen, lifted off a car parked in Paceville.
2. Who were the victims?
Christian Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski were avid art collectors, their Sliema residence ordained with intricate pieces, including some works of world-famous artists.
Close friends and family of the couple mourned the tragic loss, including Pandolfino’s other sister Daniela who described her brother as “knowledgeable like few people were, literally a walking encyclopaedia, eloquent and an amazing man”.
3. The rumour mill goes into overdrive – What the media were saying about the murder?
Pandolfino and Maciejowski were well-known art collectors, who proudly wore gold chains wherever they went. The media were quick to suggest that a botched-hold up might be behind the shocking murder, but things quickly changed in the days that followed.
Pandolfino was even put in the crossfire for appearing in the Paradise Papers, like every other publicly registered company on Malta’s Business Registry.
Quoting sources, numerous media reports suggested that the suspects could form part of an international crime organisation, while others said that no items were stolen from the property. A professional hit job was hinted at.
4. The getaway car is discovered – How have major breakthroughs in the police led to an arrest?
Just three days after the murder on Friday 21st August, police located the stolen vehicle in the parking lot of St. Luke’s Hospital, Pieta’.
Inside, two guns were found, a replica of an AK47 assault rifle and replica submachine gun Thompson. Stolen items from the residence, number plates and clothing were also uncovered.
Most notably, a high-tech device that could disrupt mobile and radio frequencies (and even CCTV) was found in the car.
The discovery gave some indications to the police that the suspected killers planned out the horrific attack, raising suspicions that it could be a professional job or personal vendetta.
5. A dramatic shoot out – How did the police arrest the mastermind?
Police work paid massive dividends as they narrowed down their search for the suspected killers.
Daniel Muka, an Albanian national with a history of violent crime, suddenly stopped signing his bail book the day the getaway car was discovered.
All this led up to a dramatic raid of a Floriana hideout off Triq San Frangisk.
Officers surrounded the building sheltering Muka, and after firing four flash grenades, barged into the residence, disarmed and arrested him.
A 9mm gun which could be the murder weapon was seized and is currently undergoing forensic testing. Other items were also taken from the scene as potential evidence.
Two men were found with Muka in the building, but are not linked to the murder for the time being. Jason Caruana, a Maltese national who lives in the building, is being held by police.
6. Who is Daniel Muka?
Daniel Muka is a 25-year-old Albanian national with a known criminal record.
Muka first reached notoriety after a violent robbery at a jewellery store in Tigne’ in 2017. Two people were injured and the robbers escaped with €330,000 in stolen goods.
A few days later, police moved to apprehend Muka at St George’s Bay in Paceville. Right before his arrest, Muka pulled out his handgun and fired at three police officers. Thankfully, the weapon malfunctioned.
Muka was charged with armed robbery and attempted murder on 14th October 2017. He was released on bail roughly a year later, sources have said.
His brother, Begtash Muka, was arrested in connection with the violent robbery a little over a year later on 29th January 2019, after DNA analysis linked him to the heist.
Begtash Muka was already facing serious charges after he was arrested by police after attempting to scale the airport’s perimeter with a handgun in hand in November 2018.
7. What was the motive?
While early reports dismissed theft as a motive, gold items that could have been stolen during the murder means that the police are actively pursuing a robbery as the line of inquiry.
Commissioner Gafa has conceded that the motive still remains somewhat open until more evidence is discovered. The presence of the two victims at home during the robbery, the very deliberate shooting of the two men, and the rapid four-minute operation leave more questions than answers at this stage.
Three suspects still remain at large while Muka undergoes interrogation. The 48-hour-rule could see Muka charged in court by tomorrow or Friday, otherwise, he could be released under police bail.
8. What happens next?
The police’s search for the three still-at-large killers will continue. The suspected mastermind has been arrested, but questions will still be asked over the horrific case and how Malta’s courts failed to take action.
Investigations are on-going and Muka’s expected appearance in court could result in major revelations over the murder and a larger web of criminality in Malta.
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