"There is much more at stake than justice for one family" - witnesses heard as Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case continues

By Emil Weber

On 7 February 2018, the Court of Magistrates in Valletta continued to listen to evidence given in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case. Nine witnesses - including police officers who arrived first at the crime scene - provided details on the circumstances of the assassination.

Magistrates Court in Valletta, Malta Magistrates Court in Valletta, Malta

Ms. Caruana Galizia was a well-known Maltese journalist investigating corruption involving high ranking state officials. She was murdered by a car bomb on 16 October 2017.

The murder suspects, Mr. Vince Muscat, Mr. George Degiorgio and his brother Mr. Alfred Degiorgio were arrested on 4 December 2017. They pleaded not guilty. The three suspects, who allegedly triggered the bomb explosion were present during Wednesday’s hearing.

Witnesses spoke, inter alia, about a flat rented out to Alfred Degiorgio in St. Paul’s Bay and the sale of a boat to him. Both times, in the year 2017, it was paid in cash. Another topic was a list of cars owned by the suspects. Several people spoke about a phone number allegedly used for triggering the bomb. In addition, police officers who were the first to arrive at the crime scene described their findings.

"Another link in the unequivocal chain of evidence"

Ms. Therese Comodini Cachia, a human rights lawyer representing the family, told ECPMF that the prosecution presented “further evidence which related to assets bought or acquired by the three persons charged, who declared themselves unemployed when brought before the court”. Mr. Jason Azzopardi, the other lawyer representing the Caruana Galizia family, said the sitting “was another link in the unequivocal chain of evidence against the accused”.

Please find here the article on the first hearing which was monitored by the ECPMF

“We look forward with determination to the compilation of evidence”, Mr. Azzopardi told the ECPMF. “The important thing is that the Inquiring Magistrate has decided to continue the inquiry in search of other people who were involved in the wilful homicide of Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia, including those who ordered the killing”.

Ms. Corinne Vella, the late journalist’s sister, said on Wednesday that the scrutiny from international advocacy groups “will help ensure that we see real justice in the case. […] There is much more at stake than justice for one family”, Ms. Vella told the ECPMF. “The people in Malta […] have recognised this and speak out, often at great personal cost”.

Magistrate Stafrace Zammit will in the end of the hearing procedure decide if the evidence is sufficient to allow the criminal indictment of the three suspects.

Leaked information from inside the prison

The defence of the three suspects complained on Wednesday that there was little privacy during the prison visits, and also that information on the suspects was leaked to the media from inside the prison.

The journalist’s children remain abroad for security reasons, but other family members were present in the audience as well as several Maltese media representatives.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) has monitored the first hearing taking place last week, on 2 February, and reported on the two ongoing cases in Malta: the criminal investigation of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s murder as well as the constitutional proceedings initiated by the family against a potential conflict of interest on behalf of the investigating authorities.

The hearings will continue on 15 and 22 February, 2018.

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