Lawyers for George Degiorgio slam Abela comments, media coverage of his baptism party visit

Lawyers for George Degiorgio, who admitted his role in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, insist prison leave was granted in line with the law

George Degiorgio at his granddaughter's baptism
George Degiorgio at his granddaughter's baptism

Lawyers for George Degiorgio have criticised the Prime Minister’s comments about Degiorgio being granted prison leave to attend his granddaughter’s baptism over the weekend, warning that this would affect the perceptions of potential jurors.

Lawyers Leslie Cuschieri and Noel Bianco filed the judicial protest this morning, on behalf of Degiorgio, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison last year after admitting to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Whilst it is every person’s sacred right to express themselves and their opinions, in this particular case, there were many who pontificated as to what should be done with [Degiorgio’s] request… when the truth is far from what was said,” the lawyers said.

Degiorgio currently has three pending cases in court, said the lawyers, “none of which have been definitively concluded.” Two of those cases are pending before the Court of Appeal and one before the Criminal court.

Due to the pending proceedings before the Criminal court, Degiorgio required that court’s authorisation to be allowed to attend the baptism, said the lawyers, highlighting the fact that the Criminal court had not found any legal impediment to the granting of this request. It had also imposed a number of strict conditions, which had been obeyed, reads the judicial protest.

The Court of Appeal, presided by three judges, had also granted its prior approval to an application which he had filed in this respect. That decision had stated that Degiorgio’s permission to attend the family function was subject to “any decision which the Director of the Agency for Correctional Services may give.”

“On his part, the Director, in addition to following the orders of the Criminal Court, had followed the recommendations issued by the Prison Leave Advisory Board, which had also found no obstacle to this prison leave being granted.”

Prison leave is regularly granted to prisoners on special family occasions, said the lawyers, going on to argue that “it would have been an injustice and an act of discrimination had [Degiorgio] been refused authorisation to attend, without a valid reason, such as bad behaviour in prison.”

“Therefore, the Prime Minister’s comments, in which he accused the Maltese courts of having made an ‘insensitive’ decision which sent the wrong message, were not opportune at all.”

The lawyers also hit out at the media coverage of the issue, criticising what they said was “incorrect reporting of the wrong message.” The Prime Minister had previously stated that the courts must be allowed to work serenely and without direct or indirect interference, added Degiorgio’s legal team, “because the duty of the court is not to please the masses as directed by the media, but to apply justice within the framework of Maltese law.”

Abela’s comments “certainly leave a serious and unjust impact on the population, from amongst whom the jurors in future proceedings must be chosen, to the detriment of justice and to the plaintiff,” said the lawyers.