Degiorgio gang was targeting head of police drugs squad

A plan to murder 'a police officer' concocted at the same time that Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassins were plotting her execution, was targeting the former head of the police drugs squad, Dennis Theuma

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio
Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio

A plan to murder “a police officer” concocted at the same time that Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassins were plotting her execution, was targeting the former head of the police drugs squad, Dennis Theuma.

The information was offered by convicted criminal Vincent Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’ to investigators and later referenced in the compilation of evidence against brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, accused of assassinating the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, during cross-examination by Jason Azzopardi, lawyer to the Caruana Galizia family.

Theuma has since been moved out of his post as head of the drugs squad, and now heads the human trafficking crimes section.

Without mentioning the name, Muscat had confirmed in court that the gang he formed part of had parallel plans to execute Theuma at the time of the journalist’s murder plot.

Prior to his transfer from head of the drugs squad, Theuma was also investigating an alleged purchase of 100g of cocaine that Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination, had made on the dark web. The investigation was instigated from claims made by Fenech himself in the phone conversations that were extracted from his mobile phone.

Muscat’s testimony lifted the lid on the workings of a criminal gang based at the potato shed in Marsa with a strong connection to brothers Robert and Adrian Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, from Żebbuġ.

The Degiorgio brothers are accused of planting and triggering the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia. The Agius brothers and their associate Jamie Vella are facing separate proceedings for involvement in the murders of Caruana Galizia and lawyer Carmel Chircop, the latter a major creditor of the bankrupt More Supermarkets chain.

Vella and Robert Agius are accused of supplying the bomb that was used by the Degiorgios and Muscat to blow up Caruana Galizia. Muscat pleaded guilty to the Caruana Galizia murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a plea bargain agreement.

Muscat revealed that the gang had agreed on a €150,000 price for the assassination with middleman Melvin Theuma, who turned State’s evidence to testify against the alleged mastermind, the Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech.

Muscat also revealed that the gang got to know of their impending arrest in December 2017, some three weeks before. Muscat told the court that Alfred Degiorgio ‘il-Fulu’ had told him about the upcoming arrest after receiving information from former minister Chris Cardona.

Muscat also spoke of a seperate plot to kill Caruana Galizia back in 2015, which he claims was initiated by lawyer David Gatt, a former legal associate of Cardona. Muscat testified that he once took George Degiorgio to Portomaso to meet Cardona “because of Daphne”. The plan was eventually aborted because no payment was ever made.

1994 attack on drugs investigator

Malta has a prior history of attacks on police officers.

In 2010, the drug trafficker Emanuel Camilleri, known as Leli l-Bully, lost his appeal against a 35-year jail term for planting a bomb outside the house of a prominent drugs squad investigator back in May 1994.

He was found guilty by a jury in January 2005 of trying to kill now former Commissioner of Police Michael Cassar and his family, by placing a bomb outside their Żabbar home. He was also found guilty of trafficking in heroin and cocaine. Camilleri had been jailed for 35 years and fined €116,500.

The explosion took place at 1:35am on 23 May, 1994, leaving a crater right outside the house, with bits of metal found scattered at the site, added to the device in order to cause as much damage as possible.

Cassar had been in the vice squad since September 1993, during which time he concluded about 70 cases, some of them dealing with high profile traffickers.

The explosion case remained unsolved until 1998 because no witnesses came forward. In June 1998, a certain Marco Abdilla came forward and released a police statement in which he said that, in May 1994, Camilleri had approached him to plant a bomb in exchange for cocaine. Abdilla said he turned down the request and Camilleri later told him he had done the job himself. At the time, Camilleri was a licensed fireworks enthusiast and also worked in a quarry, where he would have had access to explosives.