Police suspect that a Muslim man’s conversion to Christianity was the motive behind a stabbing in a Mosta garage on 26 January, with his lawyer arguing that he was living in fear of his assailants, who are on bail. Simar Halil Hannan, the 26-year-old Syrian man charged with grievously injuring 29-year-old Lamir Mohammad, also Syrian, whom he stabbed in the neck, claims he hit the man by mistake during a fight that erupted at a garage in Triq il-Kappar, Mosta, at around 10pm on 26th January. In a sitting before magistrate Joe Mifsud this morning, a police sergeant testified that Lamir had told police that he was meant to meet another man – a certain Jomah- to receive some money owed to him, but when he went to the man’s garage he found Simar waiting for him. The sergeant said Lamir had explained that he had been a Muslim and had converted to Christianity to marry a Maltese woman. “In Syria there was a practice whereby if they kill an apostate, they are assured passage to Heaven in the afterlife”, the sergeant went on. On his part, Jomah had told police that he had owed money to the victim over some aluminium works and had hit him by mistake whilst working. Parte civile lawyer Matthew Xuereb, appearing for Lamir together with lawyer Lucio Sciriha, repeatedly insisted that the prosecution should add the crime of attempted murder to the charge sheet, adding that his client was now living in terror of the men. This led to a heated exchange with the court, which ordered the lawyer to be quiet, reminding him that the parte civile had no right to dictate what charges should be pressed. Court expert Dr. Mario Scerri will be presenting the court with a report on the victim’s injuries in the coming days. As the accused is currently on bail, before concluding the sitting, Magistrate Mifsud ensured that the victim was protected by a court order. The court is awaiting the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry into the incident.