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Phone data on Msida car bomb could hold link to suspects

Police believe the accused did not even create the bomb itself, but were responsible for procuring and carrying out the execution

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
11 December 2017, 7:29am
The familiar rusty gates of the Marsa sheds where the Degiorgio brothers were arrested last week serve as a background to this Corvette Stingray, which eyewitnesses working in the port area said they had already seen
The familiar rusty gates of the Marsa sheds where the Degiorgio brothers were arrested last week serve as a background to this Corvette Stingray, which eyewitnesses working in the port area said they had already seen
 

Police investigators buoyed by the arrests of a criminal gang suspected of having carried out the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, are working on new linkages to previously unsolved car bomb executions.

The extraction of some eight mobile phones – all of them 2G phones in a bid to evade data triangulation – from the seabed in the Grand Harbour close to the criminal den in Marsa where the arrests were carried out, could well hold the clue to who commissioned the heinous murder.

Suspects George Degiorgio ‘ic-Ciniz’, his brother Alfred Degiorgio ‘il-Fulu’, and Vincent Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’ were arrested on Monday but have refused to utter a single world during questioning, and contacted no lawyer to assist them in court during their arraignment – a sign that the hardened criminals are clearly well briefed on their legal situation as things stand.

MaltaToday is informed that police believe the accused did not even create the bomb itself, but were responsible for procuring and carrying out the execution.

Additionally, the evidence at hand is suggesting a strong link to previous bomb attempts, namely with the car bomb that permanently maimed Romeo Bone in Msida, back on 17 February.

The attack, carried out in broad daylight on the busy Msida thoroughfare, left the Floriana man severely injured, having lost both legs in the attack.

The Bone case is crucial since mobile phone companies retain data for maximum period of 12 months.

Bone, 40, had been investigated in the murder of Gozitan businessman Joseph Baldacchino, shot while parking his car in Valletta in November 2010, after a piece of paper with a scrawled note of the victim’s car licence plate number was found in his car.

He had been stopped in his car by Mobile Squad police, over information that he was planning to kill police constable Mario Portelli after being seen outside the officer’s house. Listed as a suspect, investigators could not gather proof to put him at the scene of the crime.

Additionally, the police are looking into links between another car bomb victim, businessman John Camilleri, 67, and a possible contentious property deal with one of the 10 men arrested Monday. Seven of these were released on police bail. Camilleri, known as Giovann ‘tas-Sapun’, was killed in a car bomb early in the morning on 31 October 2016, in a residential area in St Paul’s Bay.

Police believe a litigation on a property deal preceded the murder. The most high-profile arrest apart from the three men charged was that of Adrian Agius, 38, the son of murdered car dealer Ray Agius ‘tal-Maskar’, who was gunned down at the Butterfly Bar in Birkirkara in 2008. Police suspected then that the executor was a Maltese hitman, but the case remains unsolved.

Agius featured in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog at the time of the More Supermarkets bust, when shareholder Ryan Schembri fled the island after amassing millions in debt. Agius is a director of More Supermarkets, his name flagged in the law courts by creditors seeking a €3.5 million garnishee on the supermarket directors and owners.

In one post, Caruana Galizia dubbed Agius a “crime gang member” in a post containing photographs of Agius and his wife. All senior police officers involved in the case have been given personal protection and the Caruana Galizia family also has been detailed with two police officers as protection.

Monday’s arrests in the criminal den of Marsa’s harbour area were planned four days in advance when Maltese police presented their evidence to Magistrate Anthony Vella to issue the arrests warrants. But the operation itself was only announced early in the morning of 4 December to participating officers and Armed Forces of Malta personnel, who were instructed to hand in their mobile phones in a bid to avoid leakages to third parties.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.