New magistrate chosen for Caruana Galizia murder case

The compilation of evidence against the three men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia will continue on 18 December before Magistrate Charmaine Galea, after the magistrate originally assigned to the case recused herself

Magistrate Charmaine Galea
Magistrate Charmaine Galea

A new magistrate had to be appointed to preside over the compilation of evidence against George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat after the defence yesterday requested Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech's withdrawal.

The request was made after Frendo Dimech made it known that she had been in the same school as Caruana Galizia's sister, 34 years ago.

George Degiorgio, 55, and Alfred Degiorgio, 53,  both from St Paul's Bay, known as Ic-Ciniz and il-Fulu respectively, and Vincent Muscat, 55, from Msida, known as il-Kohhu are accused of murder. All three are unemployed.

Lawyers for the accused said Frendo Dimech's familiarity with the victim's sister could cast doubts on the decisions she would be making during the compilation of evidence, a pre-trial stage where the police present the evidence they have against the accused. The magistrate would then decide whether there is enough prima facie evidence for the men to be indicted before the superior courts.

The case will now continue with Magistrate Charmaine Galea presiding. The first sitting is sheduled for next Monday.

The Degiorgio brothers and Muscat are charged with planting a car bomb that killed Caruana Galizia in a targeted assassination on 16 October. The men were arrested following a joint raid by the police and the army on a property in the Menqa area of Marsa earlier this month.
Seven other men who had been arrested during the raid were later released on police bail.

Caruana Galizia had just left her family home in Bidnija when the bomb was detonated by an SMS, allegedly sent by George Degiorgio from his cabin cruiser, some distance off the coast.

Her murder led to protests by the Civil Society Network and other groups that called the rule of law in Malta into question. The situation also drew the attention of the European Parliament, which sent a fact-finding mission to the island to investigate the claim that the rule of law is collapsing.

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