Degiorgios: ‘We could not be happy with State aid lawyer when PM called us criminals’

Degiorgio brothers tell court that their fair trial rights were breached during their trial because they had been represented by state-provided lawyers, after the Prime Minister had described them as criminals

Two self-confessed assassins, jailed for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, have told a court that they felt their fair trial rights were breached during their trial because they had been represented by legal-aid lawyers, who were “hired by the State”, after the Prime Minister had described them as criminals.

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio had been sentenced to imprisonment for 40 years

after making a sensational courtroom admission to having planted and detonated the car bomb which claimed the life of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

But less than a fortnight later, they had filed an appeal and requested a retrial. 

In the Constitutional case filed by the brothers, they are alleging a breach of fair hearing rights. 

George Degiorgio, who had been on hunger strike at the time the trial was held, is claiming not to have been aware of what was happening in court, for medical reasons. On his part, Alfred Degiorgio maintains that he had only found out that his previous lawyer William Cuschieri, who had been representing the brothers since 2017 had renounced their brief when they appeared in the Court without a lawyer. 

The trial had been scheduled to begin on October 4, 2022, but was delayed by ten days Alfred Degiorgio said, because he had been “unwell”, and had only been released from hospital on October 5.

Testifying after each other, the Degiorgio brothers told Judge Audrey Demicoli that one of their legal aid lawyers had informed trial Judge Edwina Grima, that more time was needed to familiarise themselves with the case file. The judge had “appointed their lawyers” they said.

From the witness stand, George Degiorio insisted that they had been represented by lawyer William Cuschieri from the beginning of the criminal proceedings against them and that they had been in continuous communication with him from 2017 to 2022.

He reiterated that both he and his brother had asked many other lawyers to take up the brief but none of them had accepted due to short time frame.

"We were never comfortable with Dr. Simon Micallef Staface or his colleague and this is because he had not even studied the case, as he himself confirmed”, George Degiorgio told the court. 

His brother added that when they had made a request for a pardon they had been misled by the Government, which had publicly described them as “criminals.” “How could I feel comfortable being defended by a lawyer hired by the same Government?” he said.

The case continues in April.

Lawyers Noel Bianco and Leslie Cuschieri are appearing for the Degiorgio brothers. Lawyers Maurizio Cordina and Carina Bugeja Testa are representing the Office of the Attorney General.