Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Vince Muscat changes his lawyer

As the compilation of evidence continues against three men accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of the suspects gets a new lawyer and asks for bail

The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio
The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio

Vince Muscat, who stands accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia along with two brothers, has asked for bail.

Known as il-Koħħu, Muscat was represented on Monday by his new lawyer, Arthur Azzopardi, who took over from Martin Fenech.

Fenech had been defending Muscat since his arrest in December 2017.

In his submissions, Azzopardi told the court this morning there is no legal reason to withhold bail against Muscat as he filed the man’s second application for release from custody.

Muscat stands accused, along with brothers George Degiorgio and Alfred Degiorgio, of having murdered the journalist by a car bomb on 16 October 2017.

The issue of bail for the three men has become something of a hot potato, as the 20-month time limit after which they must be released on bail approaches.

Although the court has ruled there are enough grounds for charges to be formally filed against the three men, the Attorney General has not yet issued the bill of indictment.

“Irrespective of the 20-month limit, the civilian witnesses have testified,” Azzopardi insisted.

READ ALSO: Lead investigator in Caruana Galizia case rubbishes claims prosecution waiting until last minute to indict suspects

He acknowledged that any decision to grant bail would be controversial, even if legally correct. “I would not wish to be in the magistrate’s shoes,” he said.

Azzopardi argued that Muscat was almost never mentioned by the witnesses.

“We were told that he is a spotter, but… it is not normal to have a spotter who is blind in one eye,” he pointed out.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, police Inspector Keith Arnaud and defence lawyer Martin Fenech, who has been replaced by Arthur Azzopardi
Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, police Inspector Keith Arnaud and defence lawyer Martin Fenech, who has been replaced by Arthur Azzopardi

Earlier this morning two medical witnesses testified that Muscat had been blinded in his right eye by a gunshot in 2014.

“I believe that there is no legal reason that militates against his granting bail. If it existed in however small a way, I would not have made these submissions.”

The court, presided by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, in a decree issued from chambers this afternoon, denied bail. The case continues in August.

George Degiorgio is represented by legal aid lawyer Josette Sultana. Alfred Degiorgio is represented by lawyer William Cuschieri. 

Police inspector Keith Arnaud is prosecuting together with Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

Today’s sitting was observed by Flutura Kusari from the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and Jantine van Herwijnen from Free Press Unlimited.

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