AG requests life imprisonment for Yorgen Fenech, judge abstains from presiding trial

AG requests life imprisonment for Yorgen Fenecg, alleged mastermind in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Judge Aaron Bugeja abstains

Yorgen Fenech
Yorgen Fenech

The Attorney General has issued the Bill of Indictment against Yorgen Fenech, which was filed in court this morning.

Fenech is indicted for complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and criminal conspiracy. The first head of indictment requests the penalty of life imprisonment, while the second is 20 to 30 years in prison.

Legal sources said this development puts paid to any hopes Fenech might have had for automatic bail, due to time spent under arrest. Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti is presently hearing arguments on Fenech's latest bail application in a scheduled sitting. 

The Bill of Indictment was filed by Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia earlier this morning, just before a scheduled sitting in a bail application before the Criminal Court.

The judge assigned to preside over Yorgen Fenech’s trial for the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has abstained, citing his previous role in the Egrant inquiry.

Being duty judge on roster, Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja had been assigned the jury on Wednesday, after the bill of indictment against Fenech was filed by the Attorney General.

But the judge handed down a decree shortly afterwards, noting that he had presided over an inquiry in which he had expressed his judgment on matters which are directly linked to Fenech’s defence. Having previously expressed judgment on the merits of the case is a ground for a judge’s abstention at law.

Before being made a judge, Bugeja had led the inquiry into the secret offshore company Egrant, which Daphne Caruana Galizia had alleged belonged to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife and had received a million dollar payment from Azerbaijan’s ruling family.

The lengthy inquiry culminated in a 1500 page report which found no evidence linking the Muscats to Egrant.

Bugeja had previously also abstained from presiding the trials of the Degiorgio brothers, who are accused of carrying out Caruana Galizia’s assassination.