Caruana Galizia murder trial live-blog: Degiorgios get 40-year sentence after pleading guilty

In an extraordinary twist, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio plead guilty to murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia, halfway through the first day of their trial

The two men accused of being the triggermen in the fatal 2017 car bombing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have pleaded guilty, nine hours into the start of their murder trial, just two days short of the fifth-year anniversary of the assassination.

George Degiorgio, 58, known as iċ-Ċiniż and his brother Alfred Degiorgio, 56, known as il-Fulu, pleaded guilty shortly after the midday break at 3pm, reversing their earlier plea of not guilty.

They were sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence, after their lawyers consulted the Attorney General.

The trial was presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima.

20:00 That's it for today. The Degiorgios are on their way to prison to serve their 40-year court sentence. We have plenty of stories on George Degiorgio's courtroom rant, the moment Daphne's parents heard the brothers plead guilty, and the several reactions to today's events. Thanks for following. Nicole Meilak
19:13 There seems to be some back and forth between the Degiorgios and people in the public benches, likely the family. “No you cannot,” can be heard among the shouting.

"I want to give them the full truth from beginning to end," Alfred is heard telling one of the prison guards.
Nicole Meilak
19:11 Although the accused admitted their guilt, this had happened after the jury had started, said the judge. The court said that it would be upholding the sentence proposed by the parties and sentenced them to 40 years in jail as well as the sum of €42,930 each in costs. In addition to the prison sentence and costs, the brothers were also ordered to pay €50,000 each from the money they received as a result of the crime. Nicole Meilak
19:08 The judge noted the fact that the accused had today admitted to all the heads of indictment, and the suggestion by the parties of a 40 year sentence. She also noted that they had been medically examined and found to be capable of pleading guilty - and that they had repeated their admission of guilt after being given the opportunity to reconsider their plea. Nicole Meilak
19:06 Judge Edwina Grima emerges from chambers. She asks the Degiorgios once again whether they still intended to plead guilty. They confirmed their guilty plea. She proceeds to read the judgement. Nicole Meilak
18:53 A quick recap: The Degiorgio brothers pleaded guilty to murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia today.
The two men were arrested in 2017 for being the triggermen behind the murder. Almost five years to the day of the assassination, they have pleaded guilty to all the charges brought against them. Today was the first day of their trial by jury, but what was set to be a weeks-long jury has been cut down to a trial of only a few hours.
There is a historical significance to what happened today. Never in judicial history has a plea bargain been struck between the defence and prosecution during a trial by jury.
Nicole Meilak
18:28 A plea bargain does not bind the court in its judgment. So, the judge may opt for a harsher punishment. Lawyers are telling us that this event has historical significance because never in Maltese juridical history has a plea bargain been struck between the defence and prosecution during a trial by jury. Kurt Sansone
18:03 George and Alfred Degiorgio have pleaded guilty to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and are now awaiting the judge’s sentence. Kurt Sansone
17:59 The judge retires to chambers after announcing that she will be sentencing the Degiorgios within the hour. Kurt Sansone
17:59 The jurors are informed that the accused have pleaded guilty to the charges against them. The judge thanks the jurors for their service and dismisses them. Kurt Sansone
17:58 The defence lawyers announce that they have no further submissions to make on the punishment. The court asks the usher to bring the jurors in. Kurt Sansone
17:58 Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia, in view of the guilty plea, presents a joint application together with the defence, to which the parte civile has also expressed its agreement. The application requests 40 years, costs and confiscation of the corpus delicti as punishment, the judge says. Kurt Sansone
17:57 The court explains that it is obliged to point out the fact that the charges against them could carry the punishment of imprisonment for life. Judge Edwina Grima asks them to confirm their pleas. The accused do. Kurt Sansone
17:55 Alfred Degiorgio, from his wheelchair is asked the same question. "Guilty," he says with a weak voice. Kurt Sansone
17:54 The court asks George Degiorgio what he is pleading. "Guilty," he replies. Kurt Sansone
17:54 The experts are dismissed. Kurt Sansone
17:53 Psychiatrist Dr Beppe Micallef Trigona takes the stand. He examined both accused separately to ascertain that they were mentally fit to plead guilty. According to established mental criteria they are compos mentis, he says and are aware of and understand what they are doing. Kurt Sansone
17:53 Mario Scerri now takes the stand. Scerri says he had examined Alfred Degiorgio two days ago when his hunger strike had begun. From yesterday to today, his medical parameters remained good, he says. Scerri adds that both accused were then examined by the psychiatrist. Kurt Sansone
17:52 The court, in view of Alfred Degiorgio's condition appointed Dr Mario Scerri and psychiatrist Beppe Micallef Trigona to examine the accused. Kurt Sansone
17:51 The trial was scheduled to resume at 3pm, but when the time came… it didn’t. Nobody turned up except the accused and the press. Some minutes later the defence and parte civile lawyers rushed in and out of the courtroom and it became increasingly clear that something was afoot.
Almost an hour after the sitting was supposed to start, senior court reporter Matthew Agius received a tip off about a possible change of plea by the Degiorgio brothers.
A source seated close to the accused’s bench says that as soon as George Degiorgio heard Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia explain how the movements of the burner phones had shadowed those of the accused’s phones, he had turned to his brother and told him that “we have no way out” and to plead guilty.
This could not be confirmed however this piece of information had already emerged in the testimony of the investigating police inspector during the compilation of evidence before the court of magistrates.
The defence lawyer has now informed the court that the accused will be changing their plea and admit guilt.
Kurt Sansone
17:46 Defence lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace informs the court that the defence is changing its position and the accused will be pleading guilty. Kurt Sansone
17:45 Court is in session again. Kurt Sansone
17:41 Things seem to be moving again inside the courtroom. The prosecution and parte civile lawyers have entered the hall, while defence lawyer Martin Farrugia is sitting at the defence bench. Kurt Sansone
17:31 Superintendent Keith Arnaud, the lead investigator in the Caruana Galizia murder, is seen leaving the court building. Kurt Sansone
17:23 Mario Scerri, a doctor, and a court-appointed expert is seen entering the courtroom. Once again, we have no details as to why his presence is needed. Scerri was appointed to examine one of the accused after his prison overdose. He certified the man fit for trial and the judge ordered that the accused are accompanied at all times by a medical team. Trial proceedings remain stalled without explanation. Kurt Sansone
17:00 We still have no word as to what is happening. The trial was scheduled to resume at 3pm but when the time came, it didn’t. No explanation has been given yet as to what is causing the delay. Kurt Sansone
16:44 QUICK RECAP:The trial was supposed to resume after a short break. But almost two hours later there has been no action in the courtroom. The reason for the delay has not yet been explained but something is definitely afoot. The accused were taken back to their holding cells and lawyers have been shuttling in and out of the courtroom. The trial started today. Kurt Sansone
16:41 Philip Galea Farrugia and Giannella Busuttil from the AG's office leave the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
16:40 Senior court reporter Matthew Agius tells us that currently Philip Galea Farrugia and Giannella Busuttil from the Attorney General’s office are in deep discussion on the prosecution bench. Defence lawyer Martin Farrugia is looking at his phone. Nothing but the sound of muted conversations can be heard inside the courtroom. The presiding judge is not inside the courtroom and the accused are back in the holding cells. Kurt Sansone
16:32 Legal aid defence lawyer Martin Farrugia is packing up his papers, while his colleague Simon Micallef Stafrace is nowhere to be seen. The lawyers are representing the Degiorgio brothers. It is yet unclear what the delay is about. Kurt Sansone
16:27 Court proceedings have been delayed and we are still waiting to understand what is happening. Kurt Sansone
16:15 We are experiencing a delay, but we are not sure why. The judge may explain the delay when she returns. Karl Azzopardi
15:53 George Degiorgio hasn't stopped talking to his guards since he came in. Alfred looking around, occasionally talking to his nurse.

Now the two accused are speaking to each other. George has a sheath of several folded pieces of A4 papers in his hand. We don’t' know what they are, but some are surmising that it could be a decree.
Karl Azzopardi
15:50 The sitting will resume soon. Things seem to have started moving now. Both accused have been escorted back into the courtroom. Karl Azzopardi

The trial by jury of George and Alfred Degiorgio, who stand accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has begun.

The brothers are denying the six heads of indictment against them, which include wilful homicide and conspiracy to commit wilful homicide, as well as causing an explosion which resulted in the death of a person.

There was no shortage of courtroom drama before the jury was empanelled with the newly-engaged legal aid defence lawyers, replacing the Degiorgio’s original counsel who recently renounced the brief, repeating their complaint that they had insufficient time to acquaint themselves with the reams of evidence. The court dismissed this argument, pointing out that the law specified a 20-day period for jury preparation and that they had been given 40.

Before the jurors entered the courtroom this morning, George Degiorgio had also decided to lash out at lawyers on both sides of the trial. “You’re not ready. Give us a reason... don’t you know who killed Daphne?” he called out to the prosecution. “Your friends, those whom you were shoulder to shoulder with... go investigate them.” “What a cesspit of a country. You should be ashamed of yourself. Are there any journalists here? Publish what I am saying.”

He then turned to his legal aid lawyers, repeatedly telling them: “You’re not ready!”

With the trial finally underway, Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia gave the jurors a brief overview of the police investigation that had led to the identification of the alleged killers, before the trial stopped for lunch. It will resume at 3pm.
Karl Azzopardi
13:18 The jury breaks for lunch. We resume at 3pm. Karl Azzopardi
13:18 International Press Institute (IPI), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also came to the court room. Karl Azzopardi
13:18 On the Maya, George Degiorgio had three phones. One burner phone, one for detonating the explosive and his personal phone.

George made a "mistake" calling a friend to top him up with mobile phone credit. Just before 3pm, Caruana Galizia left her house. Alfred calls George on the burner phone, but Daphne returned for her cheque book. Alfred informs George that she is driving, from 88820 to 88824 burner phone. Whilst this call is ongoing, phone number ending 4366 sends message “rel1 = on”.

This was decoded by Maltese experts and the FBI. George Degiorgio was off the coast of Valleta near the Siege Bell when he sent this message.
Karl Azzopardi
13:09 Daphne Caruana Galizia’s car was opened and Vincent Muscat, who was present there and who will testify, placed the bomb under the seat.

George Degiorgio’s number, previously at Bidnija at 1:50am broadcast its location at 6am near Marsa and subsequently connected to cell towers around the coast,

The other phone numbers remained in Bidnija with Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat at the vantage point, observing their target.

Galea Farrugia explained that a cigarette butt was found there, under a rock, from which DNA with a perfect match to Alfred Degiorgio was recovered.
Karl Azzopardi
13:07 Subsequent to the issuing of the Bill of indictment, other people were accused of supplying the bomb. Europol experts pieced together the explosive device’s GSM module which took a SIM card 99683752. After the explosion, the FBI managed to establish amongst other things, the fact that this number stopped broadcasting its location at the time of the explosion and never resurfaced again.

This SIM card made a location update at Bidnija at 1:51am. It did not update until 3:02pm that day when it received a message and the bomb exploded.

The SIM card 4366 from which the message was sent was always observed to travel with George Degiorgio’s personal phone. On 16 October 2017, at around 1am, the three burner phones and the three personal phones of ALfred and George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat were in Bidnija.
Karl Azzopardi
12:59 “Initially they had the idea of using a rifle, as they would observe Caruana Galizia through her window, typing. But they then changed their minds and decided to use a bomb instead.” They purchased three mobile phones - we will refer to them as ‘burner phones.’ It was later found that the three numbers only communicated with each other, Galea Farrugia explained. As they move around mobile phones intermittently communicate with cell towers nearby, he explains and this information is saved by the tower, known as a cell dump. 99088824 - George Degiorgio’s and one of the burner phones were also observed to be moving with it. Another number 99348493 - belonged to Alfred Degiorgio, but he hadn’t registered it in his name. He was linked to it after he booked a hotel stay in Gozo and gave that number. Karl Azzopardi
12:57 After the deposit is made, in June 2017, the accused buy a scope and binoculars to observe the movements of their target, Caruana Galizia. They find a vantage point where they can observe her residence from a distance. Karl Azzopardi
12:57 In May 2017, Melin Theuma deposits €30,000 with the accused. He explains that Vincent Muscat is not named in the Bill of Indictment, replaced by omissis as he had already admitted to his part in the crime. Karl Azzopardi
12:56 In April 2017, another person approached Melvin Theuma and asked him to find someone to kill DCG. He mentioned a certain George ic-ciniz. Teuma managed to get hold of the number belonging to George’s brother. They met at BusyBee, where Theuma made the proposal for the killing of Caruana Galizia. Alfred says he wants to think about it. Some time later they meet again at BusyBee and he says that they have agreed to do it, also quoting the price: €150,000. Karl Azzopardi
12:47 The inquiry had roped in a number of experts from the Netherlands Forensic Institute, Europol experts in post-blast analysis, as well as a super-specialised FBI unit called “CAST: which stands for Cellular Analysis Survey Team,” he said. CAST specialises in triangulations and mobile phone signal analysis techniques, the prosecutor explained. “This apart from the Maltese experts, in IT, DNA, data analysis and so on.” Karl Azzopardi
12:46 "For every fact that I, for the Attorney General will be presenting you with, I will be also be showing you the evidence for." He explains the difference between a magisterial inquiry and a compilation of evidence. The inquiry's role is to gather the evidence, in serious crimes, with urgency, even when the perpetrator has not yet been identified. The duty magistrate appoints a number of experts to assist with the collection and examination of this evidence. Karl Azzopardi
12:39 His explanation also briefly touches upon the other heads of indictment. Karl Azzopardi
12:39 "The second head of indictment is causing an explosion which resulted in the death of a person. Although the same person was killed, the law envisages causing a fatal explosion as a separate crime. You might say “isn’t this the same as the first one?” Don’t worry about this, I will be giving a detailed explanation of the legal principles at a later stage." Karl Azzopardi
12:38 Galea Farrugia moves on to the rekwizitorja proper. The first head of indictment is wilful homicide, he says. “Let’s call a spade a spade. In most juries the victim is not a well-known person. Daphne Caruana Galizia was well known and some might agree with her, while others didn’t. She was a blogger, some referred to her as a ‘biċċa’ blogger, others as the witch of Bidnija. Daphne Caruana Galizia was a person, a daughter, a mother, a sister. She had friends. Irrespective of where your sympathies lie, they should not be a factor in your decision.” Karl Azzopardi
12:32 The State has an obligation to ensure the safety of all its citizens and has no ties to any parties, he begins. The prosecutor then moves on to an explanation of the concept of a jury and its legal basis. He acknowledges the fact that the jurors might have initially been shocked to have been selected, as well as the fact that it might not be the juror’s wish to serve, but stressed the importance of their role. Karl Azzopardi
12:30 The jurors are called in and Philip Galea Farrugia, assistant Attorney General begins his initial address. Karl Azzopardi
12:27 The judge enters the courtroom again. Philip Galea Farrugia informs the court that Peter Caruana Galizia and Matthew Caruana Galizia are present in the courtroom as parte civile but will also testify. The judge asks the defence whether they have any objection to their presence during the hearing of these proceedings as they are also witnesses. The defence jointly declares that there is no objection. Karl Azzopardi
12:20 Lead homicide investigator, Superintendent Keith Arnaud is discussing something with the parte civile lawyers. Karl Azzopardi
12:18 We're back in the courtroom waiting for the judge and jurors to return. The accused are already here. Karl Azzopardi
11:42 The court takes a short break and proceedings will continue after around 30 minutes. Kurt Sansone
11:41 The judge thanks the jury for fulfilling this important civic duty, stressing the importance of a free and calm decision. Kurt Sansone
11:40 After a short break, the Attorney General prosecutor will make his ‘rekwiżitorja’ - an outline of the facts of the case, the evidence and his observations, against the accused.
Then the prosecution’s evidence will start being heard, after which the defence may bring its own evidence if it wishes.
Submissions and replies come next - the accused always has the last word.
Finally, the judge will address the jury, to sum up the facts and evidence that emerged during the trial.
The jury will then deliberate and collectively come up with a verdict.
Kurt Sansone
11:38 QUICK RECAP: Our senior court report Matthew Agius is inside the courtroom, following the start of the trial of George Degiorgio and his brother Alfred Degiorgio. The men are accused of procuring, planting and detonating the bomb that assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017. So far, court proceedings have been procedural in nature – the jury was selected, followed by the Bill of Indictment being read out, and finally the judge explaining to jurors what is expected of them and how the judicial process will move forward. The trial is presided by Madame Justice Edwina Grima. Kurt Sansone
11:33 The jury is told that it may, and that it is encouraged to, ask questions to the witnesses during cross-examination. Kurt Sansone
11:32 The judge proceeds to explain the four pillars of criminal proceedings to the jury. The first is the presumption of innocence. “During the entirety of this process, the Degiorgios are presumed innocent until you arrive at your verdict, when you can either confirm or overturn it.”
The second is the burden of proof. This is always borne by the prosecution. The defendant is not obliged to say a word and guilt cannot be inferred from his silence. The accusations must be proven by the prosecution.
Thirdly: “What one of the accused says, cannot be used as evidence, whether in favour or against, against the other accused.”
Finally: Any doubt which is founded in reason, is always in favour of the accused. You must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused. This is the prosecution’s job, to convince you beyond reasonable doubt. The defence’s job is to raise this doubt.
Kurt Sansone
11:27 Article 19 and European Centre for Media Freedom, both international organisation that champion media freedom, are present in court to monitor the opening of the trial. Kurt Sansone
11:22 The judge continues: “You must look at the facts, arrive at a conclusion from the evidence you are shown that is free from fear and every external influence or prejudice you might have.” Kurt Sansone
11:20 Madame Justice Edwina Grima is patiently giving an overview of the iter criminis - the criminal justice process. The evidence is collected during the compilation of evidence before the Court of Magistrates. The evidence brought before the Criminal Court is selected from this by the Attorney General. "You have heard a lot about this case, but here you must be a clear slate and base your decisions on the evidence presented here," she says, urging them to leave their prejudices behind. "Prejudice is the enemy of justice," the judge adds. Kurt Sansone
11:16 Judge Edwina Grima: "Your duty today is to be the judges of fact in this case. I as a judge of law will explain to you what the legal parameters are and you will make your decisions accordingly." Kurt Sansone
11:15 The Bill of Indictment has been read out in full and the judge is now explaining to the jurors that the accused had replied that they were not guilty of the accusations levelled against them. Kurt Sansone
11:14 The jury is told that the indicted men cooperated with persons “as yet unknown” procuring a powerful explosive device and coordinated the operation, together with Vincent Muscat. “They were fully aware of the criminal intention.” Kurt Sansone
11:13 The six heads of indictment are:
1. Wilful Homicide - carrying with it the punishment of life imprisonment.
2. Causing an explosion which resulted in the death of a person - also punishable by imprisonment for life.
3. Illicit possession of explosives - punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
4. Criminal conspiracy which as its objective was murder - punishable by between 20 and 40 years in prison.
5. Constituting, organising or financing an organisation with the aim of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment for over four years, which carries a sentence of between four and 12 years in jail.
6. Active participation in a conspiracy of two or more persons with the intention to commit a crime - punishable by between four and 12 years in prison.
Kurt Sansone
11:08 The jury will, after hearing witnesses, seeing the evidence and hearing the arguments brought forward by both sides, have to decide whether the accused men are guilty or not guilty of the six heads of indictment. Kurt Sansone
10:55 The Bill of Indictment description of the bomb’s destruction is graphic: “Parts of her body were flung out of the car, while others remained inside the burning vehicle.” Kurt Sansone
10:54 The indictment contains a detailed timeline of the crime, as well as a description of the means used. It explains how, on the morning of the murder, George Degiorgio had set sail in his cabin cruiser, never straying far from the coast to stay within mobile reception range. His brother Alfred had been keeping watch on the victim's movements and had called George to inform him that Caruana Galizia had started driving away from her home in Bidnija. George, using a separate mobile phone, had sent a message to the GSM module attached to the bomb, setting it off and causing Caruana Galizia's death. Kurt Sansone
10:48 The jury proper is made up of 5 men and 4 women. The clerk of the court reads out the Bill of Indictment to the jury. The trial is happening almost five years to the day when Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated. Kurt Sansone
10:40 The judge informs the defence that the Constitutional court has just rejected the application they filed this morning (scroll down to 9:49am post). Matthew Vella
10:31 The sole criteria for selection is whether they are active on social media and take positions on current events. This is the only question being asked to potential jurors. Matthew Vella
10:23 The first potential foreman said he might have a conflict of interest as he is an accountant at the tax compliance unit. The court exempted him from jury service and sent him on his way.

Second potential juror is a bank employee. Accepted. One juror didn’t turn up and was fined €500.

Another was exempted from jury service after she told the court that she was on maternity leave and had an 11-month-old baby to care for.

Matthew Vella
09:49 The jurors are called in to the courtroom for selection. Matthew Vella
09:49 The judge asks the accused what they are replying to the indictment. George Degiorgio: “I have nothing to say.” A not guilty plea was therefore registered by the court. Alfred Degiorgio: faintly and with difficulty – “not guilty” Matthew Vella
09:49 The court also ordered that Alfred Degiorgio is to be placed under 24 hour watch  by a nurse and a doctor, who are to inform the court immediately if his condition deteriorates. Matthew Vella
09:49 The court, having heard the concerns raised by the legal aid defence lawyers and replies that the law itself establishes a time frame in which the accused is given to prepare his defence. That period is 20 days.

“The court may, for a valid reason, extend this period. In fact this court has extended this legal period by more than double the time allowed.”

“The court is of the opinion that this jury, which was given a date in July this year, gave the accused a long enough period time to the accused to prepare their defence. Not only this, but when the accused found themselves in difficulty after their lawyer renounced his brief on the eve of the trial, the court gave even more time to the accused to engage another lawyer.

It was the accused themselves who informed the court that they had been unable to find a lawyer they trusted who was prepared to assist them. The court therefore, found itself with its hands tied and could only do that which the law empowers it to do – that is, in the circumstances where a person accused is unable to engage a lawyer to defend it, appoint a legal aid lawyer to provide an adequate defence to the accused. After this happened the court conceded further time to the defence lawyers to prepare their defence.

The time period granted was reasonable in which the lawyers could acquaint themselves with the acts and prepare for the jury.

“Therefore, the court is directing the legal aid lawyers to continue assisting the accused during this trial and, in the eventuality of this complaint of theirs is upheld by the Constitutional Court, this court is declaring that it would immediately stop the trial.”

Matthew Vella
09:48 The defence lawyers dictate a note declaring to the judge that the acts of the case span 25 volumes, containing 11,000 pages, over 4.2 GB.

“The hard disks containing audio visual evidence contain over 77,000 files, totalling over 400GB. These have been exhibited in the acts of a Constitutional case on these merits. So to date, the lawyers have had 40 days to examine all of the acts of this case and prepare a defence. Physically, over 24 hours a day without sleep or any other work, this would mean that 1,900 audiovisual file and 275 page of transcribed evidence/ photos /reports would have had to be read [by the lawyers] every day.”

This constitutes only opening and reading the files, not examining them in detail, he said, comparing this situation to the years which the prosecution had to build this case and examine the files, with the assistance of the entire office of the Attorney General.

“In addition to this, as legal aid lawyers, in these 40 days, these lawyers have been also nominated to assist other individuals on civil and criminal matters. Between 15 September and 7 October, lawyer Martin Farrugia was duty legal aid lawyer and Simon Micallef Stafrace was on  21 September, 22 September and 11 October. Certainly, and obviously, these lawyers had a clear time and logistical problem. This is why the defence is formally requesting instruction from this court as to whether, in its opinion, the period of 40 days was sufficient for them to correctly carry out the duties given to them by this same court, according to law.”

AG says he has nothing to say in reply to this request.

Matthew Vella
09:48 George Degiorgio, the other co-accused, walked in, raising his voice:  “You’re not ready. Give us a reason... don’t you know who killed Daphne?” he calls out to the prosecution. “Your friends, those whom you were shoulder to shoulder with... go investigate them.”

He then says: “What a cesspit of a country. You should be ashamed of yourself. Are there any journalists here? Publish what I am saying.”

He then turned to his legal aid lawyers, repeatedly telling them: “You’re not ready!” Matthew Vella

09:48 Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia, and Giannella Busuttil are on the prosecution bench; together with Caruana Galizia lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Commodini Cachia. Matthew Vella
09:48 First up: the proceedings were off to a tricky start after murder suspect Alfred Degiorgio was alleged to have attempted to ingest pills supplied to other prisoners at Corradino Correctional Facility, in a bid to delay the trial. Degiorgio has now been wheeled into the courtroom in Valletta on a wheelchair, covered in a blanket, with a nurse sitting next to him. Matthew Vella
09:44 Good morning and welcome to our live-blog in the Caruana Galizia murder assassination. We have not been live-blogging from the get-go until the jury is empanelled. Matthew Vella

Before proceeding with the trial, the court heard the testimony of the Prison Director and a court-appointed physician about Alfred Degiorgio’s condition in view of a hunger strike he recently commenced in prison.

Dr. Mario Scerri took the witness stand to report on his findings. Degiorgio had been admitted to hospital with generalised weakness and dehydration, he said. A psychiatrist had certified the patient as having mental capacity to decide for himself, but he decided not to eat or drink. “He is presently refusing treatment.”

He confirmed that the medical condition was self-inflicted. “He said that there were many lawyers who had refused to represent him…he mentioned the legal aid lawyer, who I told him was a capable lawyer because I’ve worked with him." There were 74 volumes that his lawyers had to acquaint themselves with, the court was told.

Upon entering the courtroom, George Degiorgio lashed out at the prosecution team, led by deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia. “Give us a reason... don’t you know who killed Daphne?” he shouted. “Your friends, those whom you were shoulder to shoulder with... go investigate them.”

Caruana Galizia murder: Trial against Degiorgio brothers begins today

He then turned his invective towards his legal aid lawyers, saying they were "not ready" to defend this case. “What a cesspit of a country. You should be ashamed of yourself. Are there any journalists here? Publish what I am saying,” he said in court. "I guess I'll see you all in hell" George Degiorgio told the lawyers on both sides before the jury was empanelled.

It had been the accused themselves who had previously informed the court that they were unable to find a lawyer whom they trusted and who was prepared to assist them.

The Degiorgio brothers had been facing the possibility of life behind bars for their part in the journalist’s killing.

They pleaded guilty to all 6 heads of indictment.

These are:

  • Wilful Homicide-  carrying with it the punishment of life imprisonment
  • Causing an explosion which resulted in the death of a person - which is also punishable by imprisonment for life.
  • Illicit possession of explosives- punishable by up to 12 years in prison
  • Criminal conspiracy - which as its objective was murder, is punishable by between 20 and 40 years in prison
  • Constituting, organising or financing an organisation with the aim of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment for over 4 years, which carries a sentence of between 4 and 12 years in jail.
  • Active participation in a conspiracy of two or more persons with the intention to commit a crime. This is punishable by between 4 and 12 years in prison.

In February 2021, a third man - Vince Muscat known as il-Kohhu, pleaded guilty to the same heads of indictment and was jailed for 15 years as part of a plea deal on the Caruana Galizia murder. As part of the plea deal, he also received a Presidential pardon for his part in the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop.

Lawyers Simon Micallef Stafrace and Martin Farrugia were appointed by the court as legal aid to the accused men, after their lawyer, William Cuschieri, gave up their brief last month.

The Criminal Court yesterday rejected the Degiorgio brothers’ last-minute bid to delay the trial, which had been filed earlier that same day. The defendants had asked for the delay in view of the fact that their new legal team had to acquaint themselves with 15,000 documents and around 77,000 computer files.