Releasing Caruana Galizia murder suspects on bail would 'disrupt public order', judge rules

Two of the men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have been denied bail after a series of bail applications were turned down by the courts 

The court ruled that the Degiorgios must remain in custody as their release could prejudice the case against them and disturb public order
The court ruled that the Degiorgios must remain in custody as their release could prejudice the case against them and disturb public order

Two of the men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have once again been denied bail after the latest in a series of bail applications was turned down by the Criminal Court.

In a decree handed down yesterday, Madam Justice Edwina Grima said that brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio must remain in custody as their release could prejudice the case against them and disturb public order.

Caruana Galizia was killed as she left her house in Bidnija on October 16, 2017 by a remotely triggered bomb which had been placed inside her car. The Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat stand charged with the journalist’s murder.

The Degiorgio’s lawyer, William Cuschieri, had argued that the compilation of evidence had now reached an advanced stage and that the majority of witnesses had testified. There was no reason at law to justify their continued pre-trial detention, said the lawyer, pointing out that they had been granted bail by other courts in separate proceedings which meant that the courts had deemed them sufficiently trustworthy.

The Attorney General, represented by Assistant AG Philip Galea Farrugia, argued that not only was the gravity of the crime a significant factor, but also the magisterial inquiry into the murder was still ongoing with regards to third parties who may also be involved in the commission of the crime.

The court observed that the facts of the case were wider than that reflected in the acts of the proceedings. There was an uncontested and strong suspicion that the criminals involved in the journalist’s murder had not all been intercepted, he said. This wide-ranging investigation is still active and this meant that there was a real risk of prejudice to the administration of justice.

Agreeing with these arguments and quoting the European Court of Human Rights, the court said there was also the fact that the men’s alleged crimes were such that if they were released it would “actually disturb public order”.

The judge ruled that the ongoing risk of prejudice to justice in this particular case still justified the detention of the applicants.

The bail application was turned down.

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