Updated | Caruana Galizia murder suspects arraigned on money laundering charges

Brothers George Degiorgio and Alfred Degiorgio were charged in court today following police investigations into their lifestyle and bank transactions 

The Degiorgio brothers are charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
The Degiorgio brothers are charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

George (Ic-Ciniz) Alfred (Il-Fulu) Degiorgio and George Degiorgio’s partner Anca Adelina Pop have been arraigned before magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace in court today, accused of money-laundering related charges.

The Degiorgio brothers, as well as George Degiorgio’s partner, were charged after the police started looking into the lifestyle of the two brothers. Both men claim to be unemployed, yet live a lavish lifestyle, owning cars and pleasure boats.

The brothers are already in custody. Today’s proceedings are separate from those in which they are accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The police’s investigation into the murder involved scrutiny of their banking transactions and the money they had, leading to suspicions of money laundering as the two brothers are unemployed.  

Lawyer David Gatt appeared for Adelina Pop while lawyer William Cuschieri appeared for the Degiorgio brothers.

George Degiorgio, 55 and Alfred Degiorgio, 53, both of whom are unemployed, pleaded not guilty. Anca Adelina Pop 33, from Romania, also pleaded not guilty.

Gatt requested a ban on the publication of the woman’s name. She is the mother of Degiorgio’s two children and has two other children in her custody, he said, arguing that the publication of her name would have a detrimental effect on the children. Cuschieri said that the children should not be made victims. 

Inspector Antonovitch Muscat argued that the request had no basis at law. The father’s name is already public, he added. 

The court denied the request for a ban.

The Magistrate then moved on to the freezing of assets, an automatic measure in all cases of alleged money laundering. The defence said it had nothing to say as it could not object – the freezing was compulsory at law. The court ordered the seizure of all moneys and property of the accused. 

No request for bail was made by the Degiorgio brothers, due to the murder proceedings, but Gatt made a heartfelt request for bail on behalf of the woman. She had a clean criminal conduct, he pointed out. “What is the real situation? Four children, her son and daughter and Degiorgio's other children. They are now with his ex-partner.” 

“She is a full-time housewife, although not married. Her day starts at six in the morning and finishes when her children go to bed. Who is going to suffer if the court goes down the retributive route? The four children.”

Inspector Muscat confirmed that the accused was taking care of four children, but said the prosecution was still objecting to bail as the crime was serious and carried high penalties. The majority of witnesses are civilian and as she is Romanian, she can easily abscond due to family ties abroad, he said.

Cuschieri rebutted the fear of absconding as she had been made aware of the investigation after her husband’s arrest. She wouldn’t wait seven months to abscond, he submitted. Gatt added that there was no possibility of tampering with evidence. “What fear is there? Is this just to make the children suffer?”

The court, however, in view of the nature of the crime and the fact that there were civilian witnesses yet to testify, denied bail. The magistrate ordered the police to bring all their witnesses as soon as possible. “I’m sure that any other magistrate will say the same,” she said as Gatt protested. “I am trying to be reasonable with everyone.”

READ ALSO: Photo of Caruana Galizia murder suspect’s Corvette was posted on Facebook by relative