[LIVE] Daphne Caruana Galizia murder | Court rules accused can stand trial

Follow us live here for a blow-by-blow account of the compilation of evidence against George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat for the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

One of the suspects arraigned in court on charges of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia
One of the suspects arraigned in court on charges of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia
Heavily-armed police officers are escorting the accused
Heavily-armed police officers are escorting the accused
Security with the accused is tight
Security with the accused is tight
10:59 Accused have been escorted out of court. Today's sitting has come to an end. Thank you for following. Matthew Vella
10:57 It is now up to the AG to issue the bill of indictment against the accused. Matthew Vella
10:55 Court says there is enough evidence for the accused to stand trial. Matthew Vella
10:54 Inspector Keith Arnaud has presented CDs containing call logs for the individual mobile phones of the three accused obtained from Vodafone. Arnaud is presenting various pictures which had been shown to the suspects during the interrogation. Deputy AG says prosecution has no more evidence to present at this stage and asks the court to decree that the accused should be put on a bill of indictment following the prima facie evidence. Matthew Vella
10:51 Cross examination has ended. Matthew Vella
10:50 Fenech points out that the stills presented to court are not at all clear.
Scerri says the footage is clear. The footage has also been presented to the court.
Matthew Vella
10:50 Scerri says he was 70 metres away below the Great Siege Bell, using a camera with a good zoom.
Scerri is being asked how he could have recognised George Degiorgio from such a distance. Fenech asks whether Scerri knew George Degiorgio.
Scerri says he did not know him personally but knew who George Degiorgio was through his 12 years’ experience in the police corps.
Matthew Vella
10:47 He asks where he was when he filmed George Degiorgio's boat entering Grand Harbour. Matthew Vella
10:46 Defence lawyer Martin Fenech is questioning Scerri. Matthew Vella
10:46 A maroon Toyota Passo belonging to Vince Muscat was also impounded but nothing of relevance was found in it. Matthew Vella
10:44 He also searched the Mercedes that belonged to Alfred Degiorgio. A pen drive, a Garmin GPS, an internet key and some documents were elevated from the car.
An Audi A4 grey was searched. It belongs to George Degiorgio. Four USB sticks were elevated and a router that was in the car booth. The cars were impounded by the police.
Matthew Vella
10:41 On the day of the raid on the potato shed, Scerri arrived on the scene when the three accused were already handcuffed. He recalls hearing Inspector Keith Arnaud informing the men they were under arrest. Matthew Vella
10:40 Scerri says he was involved in various monitoring exercises to determine cellular activity in every road that was of interest to the case. Matthew Vella
10:39 The footage of the boat has been deposited in court. Matthew Vella
10:39 On 17 October, FBI agents arrived in Malta and Scerri was detailed to accompany them around various locations where telecom antennas were situated.
Scerri also spoke to a resident who had noted a suspicious car that used to be parked with someone inside at the tat-Targa Battery overlooking Bidnija.
On the day of the murder, the car was parked in its direction towards Mgarr, which probably meant it came on site from the Most side. [
After the murder the car was never seen again in the area.
On 23 October Scerri analysed the CCTV cameras at Exiles where Matthew Caruana Galizia parked his car to determine whether there was any suspicious movement around it.
On 25 October, CCTV footage was elevated from the Grand Harbour area. A particular boat caught the police's attention. On 23 November Scerri said he filmed the same boat as it entered the Grand Harbour in the direction towards Marsa.
The boat was a Wellcraft Martinique 200 by the name Maya piloted by George Degiorgio.
Matthew Vella
10:33 The day after the incident, Scerri was in Bidnija taking note of all CCTV cameras in the area. On 17 October, FBI agents arrived in Malta and Scerri was detailed to accompany them around various locations where telecom antennas were situated. Matthew Vella
10:31 Police officer Saviour Scerri is now testifying. Matthew Vella
10:31 Gerada also searched the house of Alfred Degiorgio and they found €4,800 in cash. Matthew Vella
10:30 A white Mercedes C-Class was towed away from the potato shed area. Matthew Vella
10:29 Gerada says he noticed the door of a warehouse closing as the raid started. The police raided the building as well but released the man, Armando Chricop, soon after. Matthew Vella
10:28 Gerada says that he was one of the first to land on the quay during the raid on the potato shed in Marsa. Matthew Vella
10:28 On 17 October he was detailed to note CCTV cameras in the Bidnija area.
On 18 October, Gerada was also present for the meeting with Matthew Caruana Galizia.
Matthew had gone for a coffee with his mother at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. The car was parked in the Trade Fair grounds. Matthew later drove the car to Exiles. Gerada later met farmers and hunters in the Bidnija area but nothing resulted from these meetings.
Matthew Vella
10:24 Police officer Josef Gerada from the CID is now testifying. Matthew Vella
10:24 The police elevated a diary and some keys that were forwarded to the forensic experts. Zammit has ended his testimony. Matthew Vella
10:23 On the day of the police raid on the Marsa potato shed, PS Clayton Zammit was involved in an inspection of the shed in the presence of the accused. Matthew Vella
10:22 Matthew Caruana Galizia told Zammit he had used his mother's car to drive to Exiles where he went for a swim the day before the assassination. The police elevated CCTV footage in the Exiles area. Matthew Vella
10:21 Zammit says he spoke to Matthew Caruana Galizia, who gave him a rundown of events. Matthew Vella
10:21 Police Sergeant Clayton Zammit from the Criminal Investigation Department is testifying. He says that at 3:10pm, he was informed by Inspector Kurt Zahra of a car bomb at Bidnija. Inspector Zahra asked him to take the details of a certain Mario Vella, who had an altercation with Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Matthew Vella
10:15 Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit has entered the courtroom. Proceedings are starting now. Kurt Sansone
10:14 George Degiorgio is sitting in the middle between the other two co-accused, in what has been the customary seating position for the three men. Kurt Sansone
10:13 The accused, George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat have entered the courtroom, escorted by police officers. Kurt Sansone
10:11 Peter Caruana Galizia is also here. Kurt Sansone
10:09 The courtroom is slowly filling up. The defence lawyers are inside, along with Deputy AG Philip Galea Farrugia have also arrived. Kurt Sansone
09:33 Meanwhile, in other news we learnt that Vitals is selling its Malta hospital concession to US-based Steward Healthcare. Matthew Vella
Matthew Vella
09:30 And later on this morning, teachers in State and Church schools will be receiving an early Christmas present when the Education Ministry and the Malta Union of Teachers are expected to sign a new collective agreement that will see wages go up substantially. Kurt Sansone
09:28 Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit's courtroom is still closed. Kurt Sansone
09:16 Good morning, and welcome to our live-blog. Stay with us today as the compilation of evidence against brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vincent Muscat, continues today. Proceedings start at 10am. Matthew Vella

Wednesday's sitting Daphne Caruana Galizia murder | Man who triggered bomb heard the explosion live on brother's phone


Caruana Galizia’s car

  • The Peugeot car Daphne Caruana Galizia was driving at the time had been leased four months before
  • Her son Matthew Caruana Galizia had occasionally used the car in the period
  • Matthew was the last person to have parked the car outside the gate of the family’s Bidnija home
  • Investigators dismantled a similar model of the car to determine whether any debris collected from the crime scene was extraneous
  • This led the police to discover the presence of an electronic board, which was part of the SIM card dock on the explosive devic

The ‘small white car’

  • A person who spoke to the police had noticed a “small white car” frequenting a particular area at Tat-Targa Battery, part of the Victoria Lines
  • On the day of the murder the white car was there but unlike previous occasions the driver was not inside
  • Police noticed that next to where the car used to be parked part of a wall had collapsed and led to a place with a birds-eye view of Bidnija
  • Forensic experts combed the area for any clues, including cigarette butts
  • After the murder, the car was never seen again
  • Given Caruana Galizia did not have a fixed pattern of movement, police believe someone was shadowing her movements

The detonator

  • Location data from the Bidnija area led the police to home in on a number that received an SMS at 2.58pm and stopped broadcasting thereafter
  • The number was linked to an electronic device normally found in appliances that can be activated remotely
  • This device acted as the detonator of the car bomb
  • The device was switched on in the Bidnija area at around 2am on 16 October
  • It remained in a static location for the day until it received an SMS and disappeared

The killer SMS

  • The SMS that triggered the bomb was sent from a Nokia 105 mobile phone connected to the cell tower near the YMCA in Valletta
  • This phone was switched on, on the day of the explosion and started broadcasting from a cell ID near the Curia
  • The signal moved to Paceville, Senglea, Rinella, Zabbar and Xghajra as it bounced from cell towers north and south of the country every hour
  • The cell towers all faced seawards that led police to suspect the mobile phone was on a boat circling the island
  • The number linked to the detonator and the number that sent the SMS had been set up in November 2016 and had only corresponded with each other on three occasions

The pleasure boats

  • The Degiorgio brothers both own pleasure boats
  • CCTV footage showed that one of them – the Maya – was spotted leaving the Grand Harbour at around 8am before turning north
  • At the time the killer SMS was sent, the Maya was spotted under the Great Siege Bell area, where it stopped for a few minutes before heading towards Marsa

The top up call

  • The Secret Service had intercepted a call from George Degiorgio’s phone, asking the recipient to top him up with €5
  • The person was unable to and Degiorgio called another person, asking the same question “Don’t take long, if you can,” Degiorgio told the person
  • The person complied and minutes later topped up the number identified by George Degiorgio
  • Police obtained call profiles relating to George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat
  • All mobile numbers involved were activated within 20 minutes of each other – two were activated in Senglea and the third in Hamrun

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