When Bassem Elsayed’s little brother was in trouble with the law, police say he took the matter into his own hands.
The case involves a grandmother who heard a noise coming from her shed one night in February.
When she investigated, she allegedly saw Bassem’s younger brother, Osama, shoving a gun in her son’s mouth.
She became the key witness in the prosecution case against 27-year-old Osama – which is still before the courts – and her statement, police claim, is something big brother Bassem wanted to disappear.
Police argue Bassem, 36, hired a standover man to bribe the grandmother to withdraw her statement.
This week, Bassem was refused bail in the Supreme Court on charges of extortion and attempt to pervert the course of justice.
His defence lawyer, Julie Condon QC, argues that the case against her client, who has never been in custody before, is not strong.
Ms Condon said phone calls between the standover man and her client did not show Bassem had hired anyone.
But investigators say that’s what they do prove.
Detective Senior Constable Amber-Lee Akroyd said as well as records of phone calls between Bassem and the standover man, there were phone calls between the Elsayed brothers.
She said the brothers talked about the standover man “taking care of it”.
“They have a conversation, laughing in regards to how loose … [the standover man] is and they know that he has … murdered someone, which he has now been charged with,” Senior Constable Akroyd told the court.
She claimed the standover man went to the grandmother’s Melton home and spoke to her partner.
He said he was making an offer on behalf of the Elsayed family.
“There’s nothing in that statement that implicates Bassem, is there?” Ms Condon said when cross-examining the detective.
“No, he just says the family, the Elsayed family.”
The standover man has been charged with an unrelated murder over an alleged drug debt.
Bassem is also facing extortion charges over allegations he hired someone else to threaten a man he had loaned $100,000 for a business investment.
In August this year, police say Bassem enlisted Liam Spiteri to threaten the man’s family if he did not pay the $100,000 back.
Mr Spiteri allegedly threatened to rape the man’s family.
Prosecutor Jamie Singh said the victim also received texts from Bassem saying: “Where’s my money?” and “I hope Allah burns you in hell you thief”.
“Now, your Honour, that’s not good-natured bantering between human beings,” Mr Singh said.
“There’s no doubt about what those text messages mean.”
But the alleged victim later made a new statement.
Ms Condon said the victim – after seeking legal advice from Condello lawyers – claimed he never was in fear of Bassem, just Mr Spiteri.
“We say that’s a problem,” Ms Condon said.
Justice Rita Zammit said Bassem may have a reasonable chance of acquittal, but she did not accept that the case against him was weak.
The matter is expected to go to trial.
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