Crime nickname: ‘Maksar’ reference to be removed from jury evidence, court rules

Judge orders removal of Maksar nickname from bill of indictment against brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, separately charged in murders of lawyer Carmel Chircop and Daphne Caruan Galizia

Robert Agius (left) and his brother Adrian (right)
Robert Agius (left) and his brother Adrian (right)

A judge has ordered the removal of all references to the family nickname “Tal-Maksar” from the bill of indictment issued against Jamie Vella and brothers Adrian and Robert Agius.

The men were indicted in 2021 over their alleged involvement in the 2017 assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia as well as the fatal shooting of lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015

On Friday, Madam justice Edwina Grima handed down her decision on a number of requests filed by the men’s defence lawyers. The judge upheld some of the requests, amongst them the removal of references to the Agius’ family nickname, Tal-Maksar, from every head of indictment, but did not extend it to all the acts of the compilation of evidence. The court, however, said that should the jurors be handed a copy of documents or transcripts of testimony from the compilation of evidence, every reference to the nickname must be removed beforehand. 

The court also partially upheld the defence’s argument that any reference to the Agius brothers’ past convictions should not be brought to the attention of the jury or mentioned during the trial, except for the purposes of punishment, should they be convicted.

The Registrar of Criminal Courts and Tribunals was ordered to provide all parties a copy of the inquiry into the murder of Carmel Chircop, together with a report on relevant CCTV footage.

Objections filed by the Attorney General with regards to the defence’s intention to summon Yorgen Fenech and George Degiorgio to the witness stand were upheld -in Fenech’s regard only if his trial would not have been held by then.

The court also upheld a request made by the prosecution, to summon journalists Stephen Grey and Matthew Xuereb to testify, together with a representative from the media house that produced Grey’s Wondery podcast. 

The judge ruled that lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, who had represented jailed hitman Vincent Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’, until 2019, will be required to testify about facts falling outside the scope of professional secrecy.

Should Alfred Degiorgio, ‘il-Fulu’, choose to take the witness stand, he will not be allowed to make reference to his brother George Degiorgio’s criminal past, said the court, adjourning the case with no date fixed for its resumption, until any related appeals are conclusively decided. Vella is understood to intend to file an appeal.

Jamie Vella is being represented by lawyer Ishmael Psaila, while lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin are defence counsel to Robert and Adrian Agius. Lawyers Noel Bianco and Leslie Cuschieri are assisting Degiorgio.