Daphne murder | 'Powerful' gang was surprised to end up in jail, Koħħu testifies

Vince Muscat has continued to testify against Alfred and George Degiorgio, accused of planting and triggering the bomb which killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio
Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio

Just two days after Vince Muscat spoke to the police, while in prison, the Degiorgio brothers showed him that they knew of the contents of his conversation.

Muscat was testifying in the compilation of evidence against brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Under cross-examination by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, said that the incident occurred in prison while the three men were waiting for their lawyer.

George Degiorgio had been worried about something Muscat had said and could not sleep that night.

“When we three would meet with lawyer William [Cuschieri], while waiting, the Degiorgios said ‘you went to speak at the depot’ (‘int mort tparla d-depot'). It was just one or two days after I had gone to the depot,” Muscat testified.

He confirmed that the brothers had also commented on the case that he had spoken to the police about.
The witness described in court how the three of them could not believe it when they were arrested. He said they were “powerful” and had “influence”.

'We had backing'

“We had backing from outside and when we ended up at Corradino we could barely believe it,” Muscat testified.

He insisted that the Degiorgio brothers knew of their impending arrest in December 2017, reiterating that the information came from then deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta, who would speak to a lawyer, who would then inform former minister Chris Cardona, who would tell Alfred.

Muscat said that lawyer David Gatt, who once shared a legal office with Cardona, knew about the murder plot.

“He used to make the thumbs up only,” he said. Muscat added: “David Gatt had also once come up to me and told me ‘how long are you going to take to get rid of the Bidnija witch?’”

Muscat also spoke of a letter the brothers and their lawyer had discussed to be sent to then prime minister Joseph Muscat.

“One time, the Degiorgios and [lawyer] William Cuschieri were talking about sending a letter to prime minister Joseph Muscat. Cuschieri was asking how he could deliver the letter to the former PM. Alfred said he would take care of it. The three of us were supposed to sign the letter,” Muscat testified.

He said he did not want to sign it and recalled that the letter had to include the phrase ‘he knows what he’s doing’ [jaf x’inhu jagħmel] with reference to the murder. 

Cuschieri objected to testimony. “Do you agree that I never wrote any such letter and never brought such a letter with me to jail?”

Muscat: “Yes, but you were present when it was discussed.”

Cuschieri insisted that what Muscat said was untrue.

The witness also testified about the promise of bail the Degiorgios claimed to have secured and an alleged payment of €100,000 they would make to then judge Antonio Mizzi.

The trio were never granted bail and the retired judge had publicly denied that he had ever been approached with such an offer.

This allegation had already been repeated in previous testimony.


George Degiorgio 55, from St Paul's Bay, known as Iċ-Ċiniż and Alfred Degiorgio, 53, also of St Paul's Bay, known as il-Fulu are charged with Caruana Galizia's murder.

Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, admitted to his part in the murder last February and was handed down a 15-year jail term following a plea bargain agreement in return for State evidence.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit is presiding.

Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspector Kurt Zahra, aided by the Attorney General's office, are prosecuting.

Lawyer Marc Sant is appearing for Vince Muscat. Lawyer William Cuschieri is appearing for the Degiorgio brothers.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

13:16 That's it for today. Thank you for following. A summary will appear shortly. Kurt Sansone
13:13 The cross-examination is over. The court sends the acts of the case to the Attorney General and the sitting comes to a close. Kurt Sansone
13:12 Cuschieri: “God forbid; God forbid.” Kurt Sansone
13:12 Muscat: “You weren't aware of the conversation on bail.” Kurt Sansone
13:11 Cuschieri insists that what Muscat is saying is untrue. Muscat says: “No one can challenge my eyes and ears.” Kurt Sansone
13:10 Muscat: “Yes, but you were present when it was discussed.” Kurt Sansone
13:10 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri intervenes: “Do you agree that I never wrote any such letter and never brought such a letter with me to jail?” Kurt Sansone
13:09 Muscat: “I don’t recall exactly, but the phrase ‘he knows what he’s doing’ [jaf x’inhu jagħmel] was to feature. That referred to the murder.” Kurt Sansone
13:09 Azzopardi asks why the letter was to be sent the prime minister of the country. Kurt Sansone
13:03 Muscat says he wasn't very pleased to do so and did not sign it. Kurt Sansone
13:02 Muscat: “Yes, one time the Degiorgios and William Cuschieri were talking about sending a letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Cuschieri was asking how he could deliver the letter to the former PM. Alfred said he would take care of it. The three if us were supposed to sign the letter.” Kurt Sansone
13:01 Azzopardi asks about information he had given to Magistrate Neville Camilleri about a letter. It was at the time that Vincent Muscat was testifying in the inquiry. Kurt Sansone
13:01 Muscat: “Yes, so when we were in single rooms in different divisions, we met as we normally would and Alfred said ‘Ċens there are two mobiles running around and I called Melvin Theuma from one of them’. Melvin Theuma even wanted to come here to prison to see us but I said no. The mobiles were given to them by a man nicknamed Gandhi. I knew him from Marsa.” Kurt Sansone
13:00 Azzopardi asks about a mobile phone in prison. Kurt Sansone
12:59 Muscat: “They told me, judge Mizzi.” Kurt Sansone
12:59 Azzopardi asks who was supposed to be paid the €100,000. Kurt Sansone
12:58 Azzopardi asks about a sitting before Magistrate Neville Camilleri. The brothers were happy before the sitting as they were expecting bail but when they weren't given it they were upset, the court hears. Kurt Sansone
12:58 Muscat: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
12:57 Azzopardi: “You weren't present when this happened though and know only what was told to you.” Kurt Sansone
12:57 Muscat: “The Degiorgios had said that they had arranged the bail and would pay €100,000. Then they would wait for when Judge Mizzi was working and would put the application in.” Kurt Sansone
12:56 Azzopardi: “What was said about the plan for your bail?” Kurt Sansone
12:56 He asks about something personal George Degiorgio had done before his arrest. It involves a watch. “Yes, he had said something about a ring they had,” Muscat replies. Kurt Sansone
12:55 “They remarked on which case you had spoken to the police about,” suggests Azzopardi. “Yes,” the witness replies. Kurt Sansone
12:54 Muscat: “When we three would meet with lawyer WIlliam, while waiting, the Degiorgios said ‘you went to speak at the depot’ (‘int mort tparla d-depot'). It was just one or two days after I had gone to the depot.” Kurt Sansone
12:53 Azzopardi asks Muscat about his testimony to Magistrate Neville Camilleri in the compilation of evidence in February. He asks if he recalls being asked how George Degiorgio had told him that he hadn't slept that night because of something Koħħu had said. This conversation had happened in prison whilst waiting for their lawyer after their arrest.

“Why was Degiorgio so worried,” asks Azzopardi.
Kurt Sansone
12:51 The defence lawyer ends his questioning. Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi will now ask questions to the witness. Kurt Sansone
12:50 Magistrate: “I am not going to allow this question.” Kurt Sansone
12:49 Cuschieri: “So the money for your gambling problem where did it come from?” Kurt Sansone
12:49 Muscat: “I was disabled.” Kurt Sansone
12:48 Cuschieri: “What did you work as Mr Muscat?” Kurt Sansone
12:48 Muscat: “I had asked Degiorgio which lawyer we were going to choose and he told me David Gatt. I told him, why don’t we tell Edward Gatt and Alfred told me ‘no’.” Kurt Sansone
12:47 Cuschieri: “But you didn't mention David Gatt until the very end of your statement. Correct?” Kurt Sansone
12:46 Muscat: “Keith Arnaud had asked me who my lawyer was. We had agreed before to get David Gatt and so I told him David Gatt.” Kurt Sansone
12:45 Muscat recounts how a few days before they were arrested they were at Mile End and Alfred Degiorgio told them to keep their chin up. “This was said to him, but I didn't ask him who said it. I'm saying what I heard. It was a Saturday and they had told me they were going to meet Chris Cardona and I had suggested that I stay in the car but they said it’s better not,” the witness says. Kurt Sansone
12:40 Muscat says that Gatt also knew of the murder plot in 2014/2015. Kurt Sansone
12:39 Muscat corrects himself. “He used to make the thumbs up only,” he says. Muscat adds: “David Gatt had also once come up to me and told me ‘how long are you going to take to get rid of her the Bidnija witch?’ (saħħara tal-Bidnija).” Kurt Sansone
12:37 Muscat: “Yes, he knew.” Kurt Sansone
12:36 Cuschieri: “So he knew you were going to plant a bomb?” Kurt Sansone
12:36 Muscat: “No. He only made the thumbs up and explosion gestures. The gestures were made both before and after the murder.” Kurt Sansone
12:35 Cuschieri: “Was anything said about the murder?” Kurt Sansone
12:35 Muscat: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
12:35 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri asks about lawyer David Gatt. Had he gone to the potato shed after the murder? Kurt Sansone
12:34 The accused are led back into the dock. Kurt Sansone
12:34 We are starting again. Our senior court reporter Matthew Agius will bring us live updates from the cross-examination of Vince Muscat. Kurt Sansone
11:42 The court will now take a break. There is a chance that Cuschieri finishes his cross-examination today. We are expected to continue at 12:15pm. Kurt Sansone
11:42 Muscat: “No.” Kurt Sansone
11:41 Cuschieri: “Had you confronted Chris Cardona in the same way you confronted this lawyer?” Kurt Sansone
11:41 Muscat: “He wasn't but there was talk of the pardon... he was my lawyer for other cases.” Kurt Sansone
11:40 Cuschieri: “Am I correct to say that the lawyer did not represent you in this case at that time?” Kurt Sansone
11:39 Muscat: “This happened while we were arrested in 2018.” Kurt Sansone
11:39 The lawyer in question had represented Muscat at some point. A question of privileged client-lawyer information is raised by the prosecution. The court says that if on that day, the lawyer was representing the client, Muscat cannot reply. Cuschieri insists that he is not interested in the advice given but on the issue of interrogation. Kurt Sansone
11:37 Muscat: “No, I didn’t.” Kurt Sansone
11:37 Cuschieri says that the witness had said that Alfred had told him the police were going to interrogate Chris Cardona and a lawyer. “Didn’t you ask why? Didn’t you ask what the lawyer had to do with it?” Kurt Sansone
11:34 Alfred Degiorgio shouts: “His lawyer is whispering in his ear!” Lawyer Marc Sant is reprimanded by the court. Kurt Sansone
11:33 Muscat adds that when the trio ended up at Corradino they could barely believe it. Kurt Sansone
11:30 Muscat: “We had backing from outside.” Kurt Sansone
11:27 Cuschieri quips that if so why had he let himself be arrested. Kurt Sansone
11:26 Muscat: “I had. The police had nothing on me. The police had no reason to come after me.” Kurt Sansone
11:26 Cuschieri: “So when you said that you still had influence, was that a reference to influential people?” Kurt Sansone
11:25 Muscat: “In fact, I was there. They had to arrest George and ask Alfred and me some questions.” Kurt Sansone
11:24 Cuschieri: “They told you that they were coming to arrest you and you asked nothing?” Kurt Sansone
11:23 Muscat: “I hadn’t asked.” Kurt Sansone
11:23 Cuschieri: “Had you not asked how the message was passed on?” Kurt Sansone
11:18 Cuschieri says it was a phone call asking for a €5 top-up. Kurt Sansone
11:18 Muscat: “I said ‘a voice, how come’? Alfred told me it was possibly from his brother’s personal mobile phone.” Kurt Sansone
11:17 Cuschieri reads from the witness’s testimony from the last sitting: ‘Alfred Degiorgio had to go fishing and he said there was going to be a raid as there was a voice.’ Kurt Sansone
11:12 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri suggests that the man's account of the bomb's detonation was according to what Alfred Degiorgio told him. Muscat says that part of the road wasn't visible from where he was and that he hadn’t seen the explosion, only the plume of smoke, as he was walking back to his car. “Alfred was angry since his brother had sent the message before he had told him to,” Muscat says. Kurt Sansone
11:10 Cuschieri asks him whether he knows that the boat is named after his dog. Muscat: “What? His dog! No, I didn’t know that.” Kurt Sansone
11:07 Asked about the name of the boat, the witness says he doesn't remember but recalls that it was named after one of the Degiorgio's children. Kurt Sansone
11:06 He doesn’t know where the other men's mobiles were. Kurt Sansone
11:06 Muscat says that from the night before the murder his mobile was off with its battery taken out, in his car. Kurt Sansone
11:01 Muscat says that Alfred Degiorgio had told him the bomb was planted. Kurt Sansone
11:00 Cuschieri confronts him with previous testimony that he didn't see Alfred plant the bomb. The witness says that he hadn't seen the actual planting but was very close to him. Kurt Sansone
10:58 Muscat: “Near where we went with the magistrate. We went before dawn, it was dark, into this collapsed building so that no one would see us. I was near Alfred Degiorgio, watching the road. I saw him open the car... and place it [the bomb] from behind the seat.” Kurt Sansone
10:57 Questioning moves on to the night when the bomb was placed inside Caruana Galizia’s car. Cuschieri asks whether the only time the victim's car was left outside the gate was the night before the murder. The witness replies in the affirmative. Cuschieri asks about the place where the men were the night before the murder. Kurt Sansone
10:56 Muscat: “No.” Kurt Sansone
10:56 Cuschieri: “Did he tell you that he was involved in the murder?” Kurt Sansone
10:55 The witness says that former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri sent Gatt. “Gatt would tell us that to speak to Schembri, one had to speak in English,” he says. Kurt Sansone
10:50 Muscat: “One time he came up to us and said ‘how long are you going to take to get rid of her?’” Kurt Sansone
10:49 Cuschieri: “How do you know?” Kurt Sansone
10:49 Muscat: “He knew.” Kurt Sansone
10:49 The sitting continues. Cuschieri asks about lawyer David Gatt (he had once shared a legal office with Chris Cardona). “Was he aware of the plot?” Kurt Sansone
10:48 After a short recess, the accused are led back into the courtroom. The magistrate asks William Cuschieri if he will be ready today and he shakes his head. The magistrate informs him that he has a sitting on Friday too. Kurt Sansone
10:46 The accused and his lawyer argue briefly as Cuschieri tries to get him to be quiet. George Degiorgio asks to go to the bathroom and the court orders a short recess. Kurt Sansone
10:46 George Degiorgio interrupts shouting: “Tell him to shut up! (U għidlu jaqtagħha!)” Kurt Sansone
10:45 Muscat: “They always wanted me to be arraigned with them.” Kurt Sansone
10:45 Cuschieri: “We aren't saying that they decide who is arraigned with whom right? This isn't betrayal. If they wanted to betray you they could have.” Kurt Sansone
10:44 Muscat: “When I went to the potato shed, they didn't even let me go get a toast... because they wanted me to be arraigned with them!” Kurt Sansone
10:43 The accused gesticulate in the dock and speak to their lawyer. Kurt Sansone
10:43 Muscat: “Yes. Surely, I was.” Kurt Sansone
10:42 Cuschieri: “So, to your mind you were betrayed?” Kurt Sansone
10:42 Muscat replies in the negative. It wasn't his concern, he says. “That's why they trusted me. I didn't ask questions,” Muscat says. He insists that the brothers knew 100% that the raid was coming, but he didn't. Kurt Sansone
10:41 Cuschieri suggests that Toni was angry at Cardona as he had been fired. “Didn't you see it as strange that he came acting on his behalf a few weeks later?” Kurt Sansone
10:40 The witness says that Alfred Degiorgio had been so close to Cardona that he had sent his daughter to work with Cardona part-time. Kurt Sansone
10:40 Muscat: “I don’t know. Castille. A driver with the minister… Before the election, Toni l-Iblah used to work in the ministry with Cardona.” Kurt Sansone
10:38 Cuschieri: “In the days after the homicide, do you know where he worked?” Kurt Sansone
10:36 Asked if he knew where Toni l-Iblah worked, the witness says he was under the impression that he worked for Chris Cardona. Kurt Sansone
10:36 Muscat: “One time, Alfred Degiorgio told me that Toni l-Iblah was coming to speak to him. They spent 30 minutes in the car talking, but I didn't hear any of the conversation.” Kurt Sansone
10:34 Muscat clarifies that it was Valletta who would pass information to the lawyer (Omissis 1), who would get it from Cardona. “Apart from this there was also Toni l-Iblah, who would make contact with Alfred Degiorgio,” he says. Toni l-Iblah is the nickname of a Cardona canvasser. Kurt Sansone
10:32 Cuschieri confronts him with what he claims are three different versions he had given of how the information came to them. “Last time you said it was Valletta, today it is the minister…” Kurt Sansone
10:32 Muscat: “Alfred Degiorgio knows, I don't ask questions. For me it was from the minister.” Kurt Sansone
10:31 Cuschieri asks Muscat how the information that the police were going for them, had reached them. Kurt Sansone
10:30 Muscat says he would also see Silvio Valletta in the same Siġġiewi shop “some 7, 10 years ago”. Kurt Sansone
10:29 Muscat says that years before they would meet with Cardona at Colin's shop. Cuschieri suggests that in 2017 they would also meet with Chris Cardona. Muscat: “Not speak to him, but we'd see him.” Kurt Sansone
10:19 Muscat says that Alfred Degiorgio told him that information was being given to them by Assistant Commissioner Silvio Valletta, who was contacting a lawyer who had contact with Chris Cardona. The lawyer’s name cannot be published. Kurt Sansone
10:18 Muscat says that Degiorgio had told him the message was sent via WhatsApp. The witness had been worried because he thought it was an SMS message. Kurt Sansone
10:17 Cuschieri: “How did the minister send a message?” Kurt Sansone
10:17 Muscat: “No. I never met him after the murder.” Kurt Sansone
10:16 Cuschieri: “After the murder?” Kurt Sansone
10:16 Muscat: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
10:16 Cuschieri: “In a bar for a drink?” Kurt Sansone
10:15 Muscat: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
10:15 Cuschieri asks the witness if he was sometimes in the company of Alfred Degiorgio and Cardona. Muscat asks whether he can refuse to reply to the question. The magistrate interjects: “Were you all three of you?” Kurt Sansone
10:11 Muscat: “When I was using the services of lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, Joseph Muscat was greeting people at Castille for New Year’s Day. There was a register.” Kurt Sansone
10:10 Cuschieri: “How do you know Castille has a register?” Kurt Sansone
10:10 Muscat: “Yes, of course it could be.” Kurt Sansone
10:09 Cuschieri suggests that Alfred could have gone somewhere close to Castille on those occasions and he didn't see him go inside the side door. Kurt Sansone
10:08 Muscat: “I saw him go in from a side door. He could have crossed the road later. I didn't see anything. It is possible, but I am saying what I saw that day. I took him three or five times to Castille.” Kurt Sansone
10:07 Cuschieri: “You said you had taken Alfred to meet Chris Cardona in his office at Castille. Are you aware that he didn't have an office at Castille?” Kurt Sansone
10:07 Muscat dodges the question. “When I mentioned Cardona, in 2014/15 I thought Alfred and Cardona were very close (biċċa waħda).” Kurt Sansone
10:05 Cuschieri: “Why so? Was it because you knew or were told that Cardona was involved in the murder?” Kurt Sansone
10:04 Muscat: “I swore last time that we had been having a coffee and Alfred Degiorgio told me ‘I'm going to ask Chris Cardona’ and I had said who else could you speak to, if not him.” Kurt Sansone
10:03 Cuschieri asks about the information Chris Cardona had provided. Kurt Sansone
10:03 Muscat: “Not after, no.” Kurt Sansone
10:02 Cuschieri asks about the episode where he took Alfred Degiorgio to see [former minister] Chris Cardona. “Had this happened before and after the murder?” Kurt Sansone
10:02 Muscat: “We put a net around it.” Kurt Sansone
10:01 Cuschieri: “The potato shed is open to the surroundings, correct?” Kurt Sansone
10:01 Muscat: “The car we put inside, near the room… we opened the gate.” Kurt Sansone
10:01 Cuschieri: “But for someone to see what you were doing it was easy. It was easy for passers-by to see you.” Kurt Sansone
10:00 Questions turn to the potato shed in Marsa. “In the afternoon, the place would be deserted,” Muscat says. Kurt Sansone
09:59 Muscat: “I can talk on what I saw and heard.” Kurt Sansone
09:59 Cuschieri: “Where you said that ‘Robert tal-Maksar arranged it [the practice car] for us’, it was because you heard him say it directly, or because one of the Degiorgios told you so?” Kurt Sansone
09:57 The lawyer presses the witness on whether he had firsthand knowledge of Maksar's involvement. Muscat says he only spoke to George and Alfred Degiorgio about the matter. Kurt Sansone
09:56 Muscat: “I sometimes rented cars from him.” Kurt Sansone
09:56 Cuschieri asks about the car similar to Daphne Caruana Galizia's which they had rented to practise breaking into. He asks whether it was Alfred Degiorgio who said that Maksar owned the car they had gone to Buġibba for. Kurt Sansone
09:55 Magistrate: “If the truth is potentially incriminating he has a right not to incriminate himself.” Kurt Sansone
09:54 The lawyer and the witness argue about the pardon. “The oath he [Muscat] was given was to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Cuschieri says. Kurt Sansone
09:53 Muscat: “What does this have to do with the case? I choose not to answer.” Kurt Sansone
09:52 Cuschieri asks him if he had used the garage for other criminal activity. Kurt Sansone
09:52 Muscat: “No, replied the witness, the owner had come one time. A certain Lorry or Lolly was involved…” Kurt Sansone
09:52 Cuschieri: “The only person who can tie you to the garage is this third party?” Kurt Sansone
09:51 Muscat says that George Degiorgio had told him to rent a garage and he had contacted a third party who didn't know George Degiorgio was involved. The owner of the garage was renting it to the third party. They kept a rent book with a false name, he says. George Degiorgio’s name doesn't feature in the rent book. Kurt Sansone
09:45 Cuschieri asks about the Santa Venera garage. Kurt Sansone
09:44 Muscat: “We were going to go with our cars.” The witness says that his car would be in the area. Kurt Sansone
09:43 Cuschieri presses him on what he meant by ‘go away’. “Was there a plan for your car to be somewhere? Were you going to walk?” Kurt Sansone
09:43 Muscat: “Yes, our plan was to go straight to the Naxxar garage, leave the car and rifle there and everyone goes away.” Kurt Sansone
09:42 Cuschieri: “You said the first plan was that Alfred Degiorgio shoots her. You also said that you had set up a firing position near a rubble wall. What was your plan after the shot was fired?” Kurt Sansone
09:41 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri continues his cross-examination of the witness. Kurt Sansone
09:41 Vincent Muscat, nicknamed il-Koħħu, is led to the stand. He sits near his lawyer, however, and does not stand on account of his age. Mucat asks, and is granted, permission to take off his mask while testifying. Kurt Sansone
09:40 Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit comes out from her chambers and the court is in session. Kurt Sansone
09:40 Our senior court reporter Matthew Agius is all set, in Hall 22 of the law courts. The Degiorgio brothers are here, discussing something with their lawyer William Cuschieri. Also present is Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi and prosecuting inspector Kurt Zahra. Lawyer Marc Sant, for Vincent Muscat is also attending the sitting. Kurt Sansone
09:38 Good morning. Kurt Sansone