Daphne Caruana Galizia case 'blown out of proportion' defence lawyer says

Lawyer for one of the accused argues bail is a right no matter the seriousness of the crime or stage of investigation

A defence lawyer for one of the men accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has said the case had been “blown out of proportion”, in his submissions on bail.

Lawyer Martin Fenech’s unfortunate turn of phrase was repeated twice in his submissions, as he pleaded for his client to be released on bail.

Brothers Alfred Degiorgio (known as Il-Fulu) and George Degiorgio (Iċ-Ċiniz) as well as Vince Muscat (il-Koħħu), have been under arrest since a dawn raid on a Marsa warehouse on 4 December.  They have pleaded not guilty to the car bombing which claimed the life of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

People who had been accused of murder have been given bail in the past, he argued, adding that the inspector had said that the evidence collection was in its final stages. "What is left is technical," he maintained.

“This case has been blown out of proportion,” repeated Fenech. "There have been many murders in the past. The facts must be placed in context. Bail is a right no matter how serious the crime and what stage the investigation is at.”

The accused had behaved in prison and live in Malta, insisted the lawyer, also highlighting that witnesses had now testified.

“This case, for better or worse, has been blown out of proportion,” repeated Fenech.

Inspector Keith Arnaud and parte civile counsel Jason Azzopardi decried the use of the phrase in the context of a car bomb that claimed Caruana Galizia’s life, calling it “cruel”.

Arnaud said the law was clear in that bail was discretionary for the court in all cases. There had been cases where bail was granted to people charged with homicide, but the circumstances had to be taken into account at law. “There’s a difference between a killing that could have been in self defence and a car bomb.”

The accused’s character and previous convictions are also to be taken into account for the purposes of bail.

“The accused’s criminal record speaks for itself… are they trustworthy?” asked the Inspector.

He contested the allegation that the organised crime reference was a fantasy, pointing out that Maltese law stipulated that organised crime existed when three or more people participate in a wider conspiracy, he said.

Cuschieri argued that the men’s criminal record only had minor offences. “Is this the fear that the prosecutor is alleging?” he asked.

The court will issue its decree from the chambers.

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