Darmanin acquitted of ignoring police summons after alleged bomb threat to former partner

Pierre Darmanin, recently identified in call logs by Daphne Caruana Galizia investigation, had been acquitted of threatening former partner with bomb

Pierre Darmanin
Pierre Darmanin

An appeals court has overturned the conviction of a man recently named in connection to the Daphne Caruana Galizia’s alleged killers, on charges of failing to obey police summons about an alleged threat to plant a bomb under a woman’s car.

Fishing boat operator Pierre Darmanin had been charged with harassment, threatening his former partner Rachel Tua, and with the misuse of telecommunications equipment.

He had been found not guilty at first instance of all charges bar that of failing to obey a police summons and relapsing, which he appealed.

Darmanin was recently mentioned by Italian newspaper La Repubblica as having called murder suspect Alfred Degiorgio shortly after phoning Daphne Caruana Galizia, over a story naming him in connection to another car bomb attack. Two Maltese newspapers have insisted the call logs show otherwise: Caruana Galizia called Darmanin.

READ MORE: Witness admitted to police he lied about Cardona sighting with Degiorgio

Alfred Degiorgio is one of the three men accused of carrying out the car bomb attack which cost Caruana Galizia her life in 2017. Darmanin’s name had cropped up in a blog post about alleged fuel smuggling that Caruana Galizia wrote on 31 October 2016. Darmanin had been investigated over fuel smuggling but never charged after a fishing vessel that belonged to him was impounded in 2013.

In the appeals case on Darmanin’s threat to Tua, the court observed that in February 2017 the woman had called the police to say that she had received a phone-call from Darmanin, who was also calling up her husband, telling her that if they didn’t drop court proceedings they had filed against him “he would make a bomb and blow them up together.”

The threatening phone-call took place at night, she said. The woman said that at first she hadn’t paid any heed as the man was “constantly threatening to kill her”, but when two days later her key fob and car keys failed to open her car, she went to the police, suspecting the man had done something to it.

The bomb search resulted in the negative.

In her judgment, Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera noted that the prosecution had made a technical error in presenting its evidence, rendering it hearsay: the accusation of failure to obey a police summons was based on the testimony of an officer who told the court that the report of Tua's account was made by another officer, who was not brought to testify.                     

“If what is recounted is being presented as proof of its contents then that would be hearsay evidence and inadmissible, but if that recounted is presented, not as such but as proof of something that was truly said in a particular circumstance, date, place and time, then this would not be hearsay evidence and therefore admissible for certain legitimate legal aims.”

“But in this case the prosecution simply presented the affidavit of this witness and did not investigate to see who had given the order to the appellant to go to the police station and speak. It is being reminded that the accused has no need to prove his innocence, but it is always the obligation of the prosecution to prove guilt… beyond reasonable doubt that it was the accused and no one else who could have committed the crimes he is charged with.”

The judge confirmed the man’s acquittal on the first four charges and added an acquittal on the charges of failing to obey summons and recidivism.

In a reaction with MaltaToday, Tua expressed disappointment at the outcome of both the first case and the appeals.

“I have suffered years of suffering: we cannot speak about domestic violence when life is made hell for women like me, to suffer the embarrassment of court proceedings after four years of complaining to the police, and then seeing this person let off the hook on a technicality.

“I want to invite women to come forward and join me in setting up an NGO that can fight these injustices,” Tua, a lawyer, said.