Man charged with supplying bomb in Daphne Caruana Galizia murder denied bail

The court has denied a bail request by Jamie Vella, one of the bomb suppliers in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case

File photo
File photo

The Criminal Court has denied a bail request made by Jamie Vella, one of the men indicted over charges of procuring the bomb which killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Vella, who stands accused together with Tal-Maksar brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, as well as George Degiorgio, had filed an application to the Criminal Court, requesting bail on 14 December.

The court had already denied a previous request for bail that he had filed in November.

In her decree, Madame Justice Edwina Grima pointed out that Vella is accused of one of the most serious crimes in the Criminal code -murder.

Whilst the accused had a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to bail is not automatic and was subject to the guarantees laid down in the Criminal Code, noted the court.

The judge rested her decision on jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights, which had developed a number of criteria that could justify the denial of bail.

The court had to be “firmly satisfied that none of the risks mentioned in section 575 of the Criminal Code existed,” explained the judge. “Above all, there must be protection from prejudice to the correct administration of justice. This is being said especially because of the wide ramifications which this crime carries with it, where there are several people not only already accused of commissioning the same but also where the investigation is still open before the inquiring Magistrate.”

Repeating the Constitutional Court’s opinion on the circumstances of the case, in which it had concluded, without hesitation, that the scale of the criminal activity involved led to a “real and high” risk of pressure being brought to bear on parties and others if bail is granted.

The judge quoted the ECHR judgment in Lisovskij v. Lithuania as saying, “the court reiterates in particular that the question of whether or not a period of detention is reasonable cannot be assessed in the abstract but must be assessed in each case according to its special features. Accordingly, there is no fixed time-frame applicable to each case…”

“In cases of this kind, continuous control and limitation of the defendants’ ability to contact each other and other individuals may be essential to avoid their absconding, tampering with evidence and influencing or threatening witnesses. Accordingly, longer periods of detention than in other cases may be reasonable.”

The judge also noted that there had been no changes in the applicant’s circumstances since his last bail application, which had previously also been refused.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin are representing Vella in the proceedings.

Lawyer George Camilleri is appearing on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.