Caruana Galizia murder: Vince Muscat's dramatic admission of guilt as it happened

A blow by blow account of dramatic court proceedings during which Vince Muscat admitted guilt in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder • Muscat is sentenced to 15 years in prison after plea bargain deal

The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio during a site visit in Bidnija in the early stages of the compilation of evidence (File photo)
The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio during a site visit in Bidnija in the early stages of the compilation of evidence (File photo)

Three men accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia appeared in front of the criminal court today but proceedings took a dramatic twist when Vince Muscat pleaded guilty.

George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat are charged with detonating the bomb that killed the journalist in 2017 just after she exited her house.

But soon after proceedings in front of Judge Edwina Grima started, Muscat's lawyer, Marc Sant, informed the court that his client wanted to file a guilty plea.

Muscat confirmed the guilty plea and the Attorney General requested that proceedings against him be split off from those of the co-accused.

Business magnate Yorgen Fenech is facing separate proceedings and is accused of masterminding the assassination.

Judge Edwina Grima sentenced Muscat to 15 years in prison after a joint request between the prosecution and the defence. Superintendent Keith Arnaud told the judge that Muscat had helped police with information that could be used to prosecute third parties.

15:55 That is all for today. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
15:55 The judge leaves and the court is no longer in session. Muscat speaks to his lawyer before being led away. He will spend the next 15 years behind bars at the Corradino Correctional Facility. Kurt Sansone
15:54 Muscat’s lawyer Marc Sant tells the court that his client is renouncing to his right to appeal. The sentence will become effective immediately. Kurt Sansone
15:53 The court also orders Muscat to pay €42,930 in costs. Kurt Sansone
15:53 The court feels it must uphold the joint request and sentences Vince Muscat to 15 years in prison. Kurt Sansone
15:52 The court also heard parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi say that the parte civile agreed. Kurt Sansone
15:51 The court says it heard Superintendent Keith Arnaud explain the accused's cooperation from an early stage in the prosecution, which could lead to the prosecution of third parties. Kurt Sansone
15:50 The court declares Vincent Muscat guilty of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and bomb-making charges as well as conspiracy. Kurt Sansone
15:48 The court notes that the accused had pleaded guilty to the charges against him. The parties had jointly suggested 15 years and a third of the court costs. Kurt Sansone
15:47 She reads out Muscat’s sentence. Kurt Sansone
15:46 The judge emerges. Kurt Sansone
15:39 More Supermarket went belly up a year after the loan agreement and Schembri eloped from the country, leaving a trail of debts behind him. Schembri is the cousin of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. Kurt Sansone
15:38 MaltaToday has also learnt that on Monday Cabinet granted Vince Muscat a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder in 2015 of Birkirkara lawyer Carmel Chircop. Chircop was assassinated in a garage complex. Last year, MaltaToday revealed that Chircop had loaned €750,000 to the More Supermarket directors in 2014. Among the three people who appeared on the contract with Chircop were Ryan Schembri and Adrian Agius. Kurt Sansone
15:35 Meanwhile, several developments have happened. As Muscat pleaded guilty in court, police arrested the brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, and their associate Jamie Vella, on suspicions they provided the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
15:16 The atmosphere is surreal. Silence prevails in the courtroom, other than the clicking of journalists' keyboards and a mutter of whispered voices from the prosecution bench. Kurt Sansone
15:12 Despite the security detail which surrounds him, Vincent Muscat looks very alone as he sits in the dock. Kurt Sansone
15:11 We are back inside the courtroom waiting for the judge to emerge from chambers. Kurt Sansone
15:08 We are being told that judgment could be expected any time soon. Stay tuned. Kurt Sansone
14:29 We have no indication yet whether the court will pass judgment in the coming hours. Kurt Sansone
14:24 Prosecuting officer Superintendent Keith Arnaud has just left the courtroom followed by Attorney General lawyer Elaine Mercieca. Kurt Sansone
14:09 We don't know if Judge Edwina Grima will hand down the sentence against Vince Muscat today or at a later stage. Kurt Sansone
13:49 A joint application by the Attorney General and Muscat under 453A of the Criminal Code is filed. In it the parties request that the submissions on punishment continue behind closed doors. The court sends the press out of the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
13:48 Vince Muscat sits, hand still over nose, surrounded by eight, armed prison guards. Kurt Sansone
13:48 The Degiorgios are now escorted out of the courtroom at the court's behest. Kurt Sansone
13:47 "After this, it is closed and that's it. No more new issues because we are going to get stuck going back and forth," the court says. Kurt Sansone
13:46 The acts now go back before Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit so that the court can appoint another IT expert to see that the nine recordings indicated by the Degiorgio brothers are accessible to all the parties in the case, and after this that they are transcribed by a court-appointed transcriber. This is necessary to definitively conclude the cross-examination of Melvin Theuma. Kurt Sansone
13:46 The court refers to an application filed by lawyer William Cuschieri for the Degiorgio brothers before the Court of Criminal Appeal on 12 February. The court noted the AG's reply and the decree of the criminal court of 17 February through which the court was requested to remit the acts from the criminal court to the court of magistrates. The court upholds the request. Kurt Sansone
13:43 This is a dramatic twist to proceedings. Vince Muscat has pleaded guilty to the charges against him. He stands accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
13:42 He stands with his hand over his mouth, grasping his nose through his face mask. He appears to be misty eyed. The Attorney General requests a separation of the case against him from that of the other two accused, who sit stony-faced in the dock. Kurt Sansone
13:41 "Guilty," he reaffirms. Kurt Sansone
13:40 The court gives him time to reconsider, as it is obliged to do at law. The court warns him that the charges carry with them a possible life sentence. "Are you still going to plead guilty?" Kurt Sansone
13:39 "Vincent Muscat what do you plead to the charges?" asks the court registrar. "Guilty," he replies. Kurt Sansone
13:38 The court notes the admission and calls upon Vince Muscat to confirm his plea. "Do you want to admit?" "Yes," he replies. Kurt Sansone
13:38 Defence lawyer Marc Sant informs the court that his client, Vince Muscat, is prepared to register an admission. Muscat sits at the back, holding his nose. Kurt Sansone
13:37 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri is thrashing out a point about hard drives. Attorney General lawyer Elaine Mercieca is saying that some hard drives are not accessible. Two court experts have had access to the drives. Kurt Sansone
13:36 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone