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Third man to be charged with Caruana Galizia murder is Vince Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’

Vince Muscat was charged with involvement in the 2010 HSBC heist and had accused Jonathan Pace of attempting to murder him back in 2014

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
5 December 2017, 4:15pm
File photo from 2010: Vince Muscat 'il-Kohhu' is escorted from court after being charged with involvement in the 2010 HSBC heist
File photo from 2010: Vince Muscat 'il-Kohhu' is escorted from court after being charged with involvement in the 2010 HSBC heist
Known criminal Vince Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’ is the third suspect to be arraigned this evening on charges of having executed the assassination by car bomb of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Muscat, 55, will be charged alongside Alfred Degiogio ‘il-Fulu’, 52, and George Degiorgio ‘ic-Ciniz’ later this afternoon.

The two Degiorgio brothers were described as prime suspects in the execution of the murder.

Connecting the three men is the daring HSBC heist of 2010.

The Degiorgio brothers are among 10 men arrested in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder
The Degiorgio brothers are among 10 men arrested in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder
The Degiorgio brothers were never charged but implicated in the 2010 HSBC heist, when their names cropped up during the compilation of evidence against David Gatt, a former police inspector now lawyer, who was charged and later acquitted of masterminding the foiled HSBC heist.

Muscat was charged with alleged involvement in the HSBC heist and was out on bail, despite facing charges of having fired over 30 shots at the police during the heist.

Muscat, 55, last made headlines after being shot at three times in the neck while parking his car in Msida.

Muscat accused the late Jonathan Pace, 31 of Zejtun, known as the owner of the Tyson Butcher shop, of having shot at him on the evening of 8 April, 2014 in Triq Bordin, Msida.

Muscat had driven himself to the Msida police station with blood gushing from his head before being rushed to Mater Dei Hospital, where he was certified to be suffering from life threatening injuries. He later claimed in court that he identified his shooter as being Jonathan Pace.

“Someone got out of the passenger’s side and started shooting. He was holding a large pistol in his right hand, and as soon as he got out of the car he rolled back his hood, and wore his mask with his left hand. At this point, I recognised the shooter as being Jonathan Pace,” he said.

Muscat suffered three shots to his head in the attempted murder, and as a result lost sight in his right eye. He now has a bullet partially lodged in his head.

Pace was later killed on 20 August, 2014, shot dead in a spray of bullets from an automatic rifle at 9:15pm as he smoked a cigarette on his home’s balcony on Triq Mahatma Gandhi, in Fgura.

He was out on just a €1,000 bail after being accused of shooting Muscat.

Pace had been declared bankrupt by a court back in December 2013 after being ordered to pay over €90,000 in debts.

Ten arrests, three charged

Under Maltese law, the police have 48 hours to interrogate the 10 suspects arrested on Monday morning before either arraigning them or releasing them from arrest on police bail.

Investigators sifted through thousands of phone calls connected to the number that placed the call which detonated the bomb in Caruana Galizia’s car and identified a number of persons of interest.

Weeks of painstaking work linked up the calls that painted a picture which shows the bomb to have been assembled in various places, including Zebbug and Mosta. Monday’s operation had been planned since November and was launched as soon as the situation on the ground was favourable.

Experts from Malta, Europol and the FBI are understood to have all independently reached the same conclusions which led to the raid.

The phone call that triggered the fatal detonation was placed remotely from miles away, which experts say would indicate that other people had been observing the intended target at the time.

The command structure of the criminal operation is understood to have been very loosely connected and the assassination is thought to have been sub-contracted and then sub-contracted again to make the figure who ultimately ordered the killing harder to trace.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.