Matthew Caruana Galizia testifies in the case against men accused of murdering his mother

‘I noticed my mother’s leg on the ground in the field. That is when I realised that she hadn’t survived’

Matthew Caruana Galizia
Matthew Caruana Galizia

Matthew Caruana Galizia took the witness stand this morning in the compilation of evidence against three men accused of murdering his mother.

Caruana Galizia recounted how he realised that his mother was killed when he saw a leg on the ground in the field. The son was the first person on the scene of the crime after hearing the explosion.

Daphne was murdered soon after leaving the family home in Bidnija, on 16 October 2017. She had been working at home alongside her son Matthew when she received a phone call to attend a bank appointment.

Matthew told the court that he heard his mother's car leave the lane and shortly afterwards was jolted by an explosion.

The case continues on 11 January 2019.

11:10 Today’s court sitting is over and the case is adjourned to 11 January 2019. Kurt Sansone
11:09 The court directs the defence lawyer not to ask about the laptop, saying it was not the subject of the examination in question. Kurt Sansone
11:09 The prosecution objects to questions about the German authorities. Kurt Sansone
11:08 Asked about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s missing laptop, Matthew says: “All I know is that it’s been handed over to the German federal police by a representative of my family.” Kurt Sansone
11:07 The family protests at the question. Kurt Sansone
11:07 The lawyer asks: “Don’t you feel you should have parked the car inside?” Kurt Sansone
11:06 Matthew: “Unfortunately my mother isn’t around and she’s the person to ask.” Kurt Sansone
11:05 Answering a question by defence lawyer Martin Fenech, Matthew Caruana Galizia said that no one threatened him directly. Kurt Sansone
11:04 The court is hearing evidence in the case against three men accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
11:02 Matthew: “I normally park the car, lock it, open the gate with a different fob. It was just me and my mother using the car, maybe once or twice my father.” Kurt Sansone
11:02 Matthew recounts how the car had not been moved from the day before when he had parked it there. In a previous court sitting it emerged that Matthew Caruana Galizia was the last person to drive the car, a day before. Kurt Sansone
11:00 Matthew: “I noticed my mother’s leg on the ground in the field. That is when I realised that she hadn’t survived.” Kurt Sansone
11:00 Matthew: “I tried to get my hand inside the car but couldn’t. There was nobody in the car, it was blown to pieces. I saw a woman with a little girl nearby and I said call the police.” Kurt Sansone
10:59 Matthew tells the court that he was still trying to figure out whether it was his mother’s car. But then he saw the hubcaps and the number plate and realised it was the car his mother was driving. Kurt Sansone
10:58 Matthew: “A large part of the road was on fire and I was confused because the road was on fire and nothing else. Pieces of plastic, glass and flesh. I followed the smoke with my eye and there I saw the field with the car in it.” Kurt Sansone
10:57 Matthew says that when he got to the main road he saw a tower of smoke rising in the distance. Kurt Sansone
10:56 Matthew: “I saw the smoke rising in the distance and at that point I just sprinted down the lane towards the main road.” Kurt Sansone
10:55 Matthew Caruana Galizia says he jumped out of his seat upon hearing the explosion and ran to the gate. Kurt Sansone
10:55 Matthew: “It’s very quiet where we live so you hear almost everything. My mother drives very fast and she goes down the lane very fast.” Kurt Sansone
10:54 Matthew says that he heard his mother start the car. “I heard the music going on and heard it driving off and just a few minutes later I heard the explosion.” Kurt Sansone
10:53 Matthew: “I got up at around 9am my mother made coffee we were sitting at the same desk. Mother got a phone call at around 2pm from HSBC bank about an appointment about her bank accounts and the garnishee order. She left the house but returned to pick up her chequebook.” Kurt Sansone
10:52 Matthew Caruana Galizia recounts the events that unfolded on the day his mother was blown up by a powerful car bomb Kurt Sansone
10:51 He says that he lives in Bidnija with his father. Kurt Sansone
10:50 Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of Daphne Caruana Galizia, is testifying in English. Kurt Sansone

FACTS OF THE CASE

The accused 

  • George Degiorgio 55, unemployed, lives in St Paul's Bay, known as Ic-Ciniz
  • Alfred Degiorgio, 53, unemployed lives in St Paul's Bay, known as il-Fulu
  • Vincent Muscat, 55, unemployed lives in Msida, known as il-Kohhu

The courtroom players 

  • Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit is presiding
  • Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting
  • Deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia is assiting the prosecution
  • Martin Fenech is appearing for Vince Muscat
  • William Cuschieri and Martha Mifsud are appearing for Alfred Degiorgio
  • Josette Sultana is appearing for George Degiorgio
  • Therese Comodini Cachia and Jason Azzopardi are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family

What we know so far

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 device

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

Other facts

  • Alfred Degiorgio's DNA matched that found on a cigarette butt, which was picked up from the Victoria Lines
  • Police say Alfred Degiorgio was the spotter monitoring the Caruana Galizia household and is believed to have remained all night at the vantage point
  • Alfred called his brother George Degiorgio to inform him Caruana Galizia had left the house
  • The call lasted 107 seconds, which is the time it takes to drive from the house to where the bomb exploded
  • After detonating the bomb by SMS, George Degiorgio messaged his wife with the words: "Buy me wine, my love."
  • George Degiorgio had been telling people the day before the murder that he was going fishing
  • After the incident George was heard boasting "I've caught two big fish today"
  • Though unemployed, the Degiorgio brothers each owned a boat and luxury cars
  • Europol experts accompanied Malta police investigations and searches when the three men were arrested

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