The Case of Ninu Xkora

Ninu Xkora has become a legend and part of our Maltese folklore. This man was hanged as he had killed his daughter’s lover, a thirty year old man who was seducing Xkora’s fifteen year old daughter.

Did this father have no right to defend his daughter from this pedophile? Was he given a fair trial, when the whole courtroom spoke Italian, as was customary in those days, and he did not understand what was being said against him? Was he given a decent burial?

All these questions arise when we speak about this man who was unjustly treated by eighteenth century society.

The story starts when Ninu, grieved by his wife’s death and the death of 4 of his offspring, used to drink and play cards only to end up in considerable debt with Joseph Camenzuli – who eventually became his daughter’s lover. He used to refuse to go home and eat with his 2 remaining daughters and found refuge in Camenzuli’s inn, drinking and spending money uncontrollably.

One night, Stella his daughter, came to tell her father that their maid had supper laid on the table, and that everyone was waiting for his arrival. He shouted at Stella to go home and that he was not returning home, before he finished playing cards with his mates.

Before leaving, Joseph told Stella if she would like to come and see him in the coming days at his inn, so that they could chat and get to know each other better. Stella immediately fell in love with Joseph and a love story between the two soon ensued.

Ninu was not at all happy when he learnt about this, and forbade the two from speaking to each other again. Unfortunately, they did not pay attention to his words, and this brought a catastrophe…

One morning, exactly on the 6th December 1907, as Joseph was opening his inn, preparing for a day’s work, Ninu rushed towards him and struck him 14 times with a dagger in his chest. When the magistrate heard the case, Ninu’s verdict was that he was to be hanged. His burial took place a few hours after his death and many are of the belief that he was buried alive.

Legend has it that Ninu’s spirit still haunts the Prison Cemetery as a lady relates the story when she went to place some oil so as to light a lantern on his tomb, and found the cemetery to be closed. No sooner had she turned around to start walking home, a man called her and asked if she needed anything. The lady told the man that she wanted to place some oil in a lantern to light Ninu’s tomb. The man offered that he would do this himself and took the oil from the lady’s hands and thanked her heartily.

When the lady related the story to two guards who were there in the following days, she was shown a photo and asked if she recognized the man in the picture. She did not hesitate to utter that the man in the photo was the same man who had taken the oil and offered to place it on Ninu’s grave. The guards then gave her the shocking news, that the man was no-one else except Ninu Xkora himself!

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