Testifying against Yorgen Fenech 'could incriminate' Degiorgio brothers, lawyers insist

The charges came as a result of that prevarication on the witness stand, in direct contravention of orders to testify

Contempt of court proceedings against the two brothers convicted of being the triggermen in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia will continue in October, after the court was informed of a Constitutional case they had filed in May.  

Alfred and George Degiorgio, who are both serving 40-year jail terms for their involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, appeared before magistrate Astrid May Grima on Monday, as proceedings over contempt of court and recidivism charges relating to their refusal to testify in criminal proceedings against Yorgen Fenech, continued. The Degiorgio brothers are pleading not guilty to those charges.

The charges came as a result of that prevarication on the witness stand, in direct contravention of orders to testify issued by Magistrate Rachel Montebello and Madam Justice Edwina Grima.

Assistant Police Commissioner Keith Arnaud, who is prosecuting the case against Yorgen Fenech. The Criminal Court had decreed that the Degiorgios must give evidence in those proceedings, in view of the fact that the case against them had been decisively concluded. 

But when they were called to the stand in April and May this year, they had refused to testify, said Arnaud. “They had told the magistrate that it was because they could incriminate themselves in some way,” he said, affirming that they had insisted in their refusals, despite the court having explained to them that they had been convicted, which meant that the right not to incriminate themselves did not apply.

The magistrate had subsequently declared that the Degiorgios were in contempt of court.

Cuschieri cross-examined Arnaud on the stand, asking the Assistant Police Commissioner whether his clients had explained that they had other pending court proceedings.

“They said that they could end up incriminating themselves,” Arnaud replied. 

Cuschieri asked whether Arnaud was aware of Constitutional proceedings that had been filed by the Degiorgios, in which they were contesting their conviction for the murder. Arnaud replied that he was.

The court added that it had been told by Cuscheri’s colleague, lawyer Noel BIanco, that another Constitutional case was to be filed on the merits of these cases.

“The fact is that they are being forced to testify about things which can be used against them should the constitutional case result in the cancellation of the trial [conviction]. If they are retried, their right to fair hearing would have been breached,” Cuschieri explained.

The case was adjourned to October for the prosecution to clarify the Constitutional claim.