Degiorgio brothers file protest against Cabinet's decision to deny them presidential pardon

Alfred and George Degiorgio have filed a judicial protest after their request for a pardon was denied by Cabinet

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio
Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia, have filed a judicial protest after their request for a presidential pardon was turned down by Cabinet.

The brothers had requested a pardon in return for information on a former minister who allegedly also commissioned the murder. They also claimed to have information on the involvement of a sitting minister in the failed HSBC heist in 2010.

In their judicial protest, the Degiorgios said it was “repugnant” that Cabinet was not properly considering their offer to turn State evidence and that the mantra that the institutions were working was just a smokescreen.

Cabinet turned down the pardon request yesterday after taking on board advice given by the Police Commissioner and Attorney General.

In the protest filed this morning, their lawyer William Cuschieri argued that their information was direct and not hearsay and would identify both a former and a sitting government minister in very serious crimes.

Cuschieri said that to date, not even a formal acknowledgement of their requests had been received and that his information on the status of the request was coming from news portals and government statements.

The Degiorgios point out that nobody had contacted them to hear their information before the Cabinet had decided on the pardon request or even before Minister Carmelo Abela, who is rumoured to be the sitting minister in question, recused himself from the Cabinet decision.

“A normal State is obliged to do everything it can to solve all cases, more so those which are very serious in nature,” Cuschieri said, arguing that “it cannot be said that the State is acting in a normal manner as a State where there is the rule of law, but it acting to stop the full truth from being known.”

“The mantra that the ‘institutions are working’ is not the reality of what is happening in our country, but is only a smokescreen.”

The lawyer argued that contrary to having the institutions working, the State is preferring to make arrangements with a person who has only second-hand information and who is saying that “nobody can deny his truth” as opposed to the objective truth. That person is refusing to answer questions because he could incriminate himself further, even in connection with the murder of Caruana Galizia, he said.

The reference was to Vince Muscat, il-Koħħu, who was granted a presidential pardon for his involvement in the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop and reached a plea bargain agreement over his involvement in the Caruana Galizia murder. Muscat admitted guilt in the latter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Positing that the State should be free from any conflict of interest and not be the place of birth for these conflicts of interest, the brothers said they had always feared that any request they made could be completely ignored because they can identify and give information that will lead to a successful prosecution of a person who was a minister and a person who is presently a minister in the government of the day.

This was why they had requested a meeting with Euro-parliamentarians, they said, explaining that they were fearful that any request they made for a pardon would be decided by persons who they would incriminate. “Not even in their request for a presidential pardon can they ever have any hope of a fair hearing… but there would always be the hidden interests of those who cannot give any recommendation untainted by a conflict of interest.”

For some, it was “repugnant” for the State to reach an arrangement about punishment or pardon with those they refer to as criminals, but this was a situation contemplated in the law, he said. “But what is truly repugnant was that the State or part of it is the mastermind or involved party in a murder and other serious crime… that it does everything in its power to cover what the plaintiffs can reveal. What is truly repugnant is that… there is a prosecution blocking every attempt for a Presidential pardon.”

Arguing that the actions of Cabinet, on the advice of the AG and the Commissioner of Police, is an administrative action which is null, invalid and without effect as the authorities failed to observe the principles of natural justice or mandatory procedural requirements, the Degiorgio brothers asked the President not to follow the Cabinet’s recommendations on the issue, the Prime Minister, Cabinet, the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General to immediately and within one day, recognise that their actions are null and invalid.

Failing this, they said, they would be filing a court case on this issue without further warning.

The compilation of evidence against the Degiorgio brothers is ongoing. They are charged with procuring, planting and detonating the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia in October 2017.

READ MORE: Cabinet rejects pardon requests by Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat