Tal-Maksar brother Adrian Agius claims rights breach

Adrian Agius, accused of murder of More Supermarkets creditor Carmel Chircop, claims rejection of bail on grounds of public disorder, is unconstitutional

Lawyer Carmel Chircop (left) was murdered in October 2015. Adrian Agius (right), known as Tal-Maksar, has been charged with commissioning the murder
Lawyer Carmel Chircop (left) was murdered in October 2015. Adrian Agius (right), known as Tal-Maksar, has been charged with commissioning the murder

One of the men who stands charged with the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop, has filed Constitutional proceedings claiming that his rights were breached by the courts when they cited public disorder as a primary ground for rejecting his bail requests.

Tal-Maksar brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, their alleged associate Jamie Vella as well as George Degiorgio were arraigned nine months ago. Adrian Agius is now claiming that his continued detention without bail is illegal.

His brother Robert and Jamie Vella are accused of procuring the bomb that Degiorgio and his brother Alfred and sentenced murderer Vincent Muscat, used to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

Adrian Agius is pleading not guilty to commissioning the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop, a creditor of the More Supermarkets chain, who was shot dead inside garage complex in Birkirkara on October 8, 2015.

The magisterial inquiry into the 2015 murder was completed, and over 120 witnesses testified in the compilation of evidence proceedings currently presided by Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo. Agius said his first request for bail, filed in May, was rejected due to the gravity of the charges and the early stage of proceedings at the time. A second application in July was rejected as premature, with the court mentioning the notion of “public disorder” as an additional ground to reject his request for release. A third request in August cited the fear of public disturbance which could result if the accused were to be released from custody. 

It was that grounds for the denial of bail that prompted Agius’s lawyers to request a reference to the Constitutional court.

The lawyers argued that the issue of public disorder did not apply as it was not listed in the Criminal Code as a ground for denying bail. 

The request for a constitutional reference was rejected as vexatious on Monday by Magistrate Farrugia Frendo as the compilation of evidence against the men continued.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and René Darmanin filed a new case before the First Hall, Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction the next day, requesting the court to declare a breach of rights and to provide a remedy.

Citing European case law (Letellier vs France), the lawyers argued that the notion of public disorder could only be considered as a ground for denying bail if it was recognised under domestic law. The Criminal Code provisions on bail did not cite that notion as one of the grounds, argued the lawyers.

Had the legislator intended otherwise, it would have said so, they said, pointing to the Immigration Act which expressly provided that the Immigration Appeals Board shall not release an accused when a threat to public security or public order was posed.

With regards to Adrian Agius, the lawyers argued that proceedings could not be said to be at an early stage. Additionally, the lawyers pointed to cases where murder suspects were released on bail over more recent crimes, arguing that no public disorder had broken out.