Magistrate strikes down Adrian Agius's request for bail

The seriousness of the offence provided enough ground to refuse bail outright

Adrian Agius being led out of court after his arraignment 
Adrian Agius being led out of court after his arraignment 

A court has denied bail to Adrian Agius, one of the tal-Maksar brothers, who stands accused of the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop, dismissing arguments made by his legal team.

Agius was charged alongside his brother Robert, George Degiorgio and Jamie Vella earlier this year.

Robert Agius and Jamie Vella stand accused of supplying the bomb that was used to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia, while Degiorgio and Adrian Agius have been charged with Chircop’s murder. 

Agius’ lawyers, Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin, had filed a bail request on 21 May, to which the Attorney General objected the next day.

In her decree refusing the request, magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo noted that bail was not issued automatically, but was subject to the guarantees laid down in the law.

Observing that while it was true that the prosecution had said that nearly all of the witnesses relevant to the Chircop murder had testified, the court said that the prosecution had not yet declared its evidence closed.

Agius was charged with very serious offences and releasing the accused at this stage could lead to public disorder, said the magistrate, who also cited from the decision by the European Court of Human Rights to justify the repeated denial of bail to Yorgen Fenech.

That decision had quoted previous judgments which had held that “a risk of pressure being brought to bear on witnesses or of evidence being tampered with, a risk of collusion, a risk of reoffending, or a risk of public disorder and the related need to protect the detainee” could justify withholding bail.

Magistrate Farrugia Frendo noted that the bail request was made just 3 months after Agius had been arrested, saying that the compilation of evidence against him was still in its early stages.

Dismissing the request, the court highlighted the fact that the law itself mentioned the seriousness of the offence as a ground to refuse bail. “Had domestic law not wanted to take into consideration the seriousness of the offence in decisions on bail, it would have remained silent on the matter.”

Lawyer George Camilleri is prosecuting on behalf of the Attorney General’s office together with Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspectors Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family, while lawyer Vince Galea is appearing for the Chircop family.