Alfred Degiorgio files new constitutional case over court expert

Lawyers make new claim of breach of fair hearing over appointment of IT expert in Caruana Galizia assasination case

Alfred Degiorgio (right), brother of George Degiorgio (left), filed the constitutional case
Alfred Degiorgio (right), brother of George Degiorgio (left), filed the constitutional case

The lawyers of Alfred Degiorgio, one of three men accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, have again filed a constitutional case claiming a breach of the right to a fair hearing over the appointment of court expert Martin Bajada.

In January a judge cleared Bajada to continue his work in both the magisterial inquiry and the compilation of evidence relating to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Mr Justice Silvio Meli gave the ruling in the Constitutional case filed in March 2018, by Alfred Degiorgio. Degiorgio’s lawyers argued that Bajada's appointment to the case violated their client's fundamental human rights.

Bajada is a highly-regarded IT and mobile phone expert who continues to enjoy the trust of several members of Malta's judiciary. He was convicted of theft and fraud back in 1993 and this had been successfully used to challenge his appointments in the past. The expert regained his standing in January 2017 when the Court of Appeal, in Police vs Franklin Gauci, presided by Madam Justice Edwina Grima had differentiated between situations where the expert is appointed to carry out work that had subjective elements and ones where experts are simply there to confirm objective facts like call profiles. The court had held that in the latter situation, there was no basis for the substitution of Bajada.

This position was confirmed in March 2017 by another sentence by the superior Court of Appeal in Republic vs Borus. In that case, the superior court of appeal had been presided by the same judge who had decided Chetcuti Bonavita vs Fenech Adami et, the first case which had ordered the removal of Bajada from the case due to his UK conviction for having falsified a signature.

Mr Justice Meli made numerous references to case law to highlight that in the circumstances there was no danger to Degiorgio’s human rights, dismissing the application.

Degiorgio’s lawyers had also objected to the fact that foreign experts had been working in tandem with Bajada, in the compilation of evidence for the criminal case.

Bajada had been appointed by the inquiring magistrate the day after the journalist’s assassination on 16 October 2017. His work was crucial in leading the police to arrest 10 suspects and the subsequent arraignment of three of them: Degiorgio and his brother George, and Vince Muscat.

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