George Degiorgio phone tapping case: Court ups security for interrogation transcripts

Court rules that transcripts of an interrogation submitted in phone tapping case filed by George Degiorgio are to be accessible only to the parties concerned

George Degiorgio had filed a constitutional case attacking phone-tapping evidence in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case
George Degiorgio had filed a constitutional case attacking phone-tapping evidence in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case

The judge hearing a constitutional case challenging phone tapping legislation, which was filed by George Degiorgio, has today ruled that transcripts of the interrogation submitted in that case are to be accessible only to the parties.

Mr Justice Toni Abela made a formal pronouncement to this effect this morning as he continued to preside the case filed before the First Hall of the Civil Court. 

In a sitting last week Degiorgio’s lawyer, William Cuschieri, had told the court that he intended to summon the police commissioner, the head of the Malta Security Services and the prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud to testify about the phone taps.

In separate proceedings, Degiorgio, together with his brother Alfred and Vincent Muscat, are charged with planting the bomb which killed journalist Daphne Caruana on 16 October 2017.

Degiorgio had filed the case heard today in order to challenge the validity of phone tapping laws, arguing that the prosecution in the murder case had “boasted” about the phone intercepts used to track down the alleged killers but which were never exhibited in evidence. 

As part of his many-pronged defence, Degiorgio had filed a judicial protest last August demanding the prosecution present recordings and transcripts of the phone intercepts to the court. He had subsequently filed a constitutional case, challenging the validity of the phone tapping law itself.

Defence lawyer William Cuschieri was not present for today’s sitting. Noting that the lawyer had not turned up, the Court informed the parties that the Director of the Criminal Courts had handed over transcripts of the man's interrogation from the compilation of evidence, as requested by Degiorgio’s lawyer.

These documents had been personally handed to the judge in a sealed envelope which was opened in the presence of both parties during today’s hearing. The Court made a note in the records of the case that in the light of an order delivered by the Criminal Court on 8 November, these documents were to only be accessible to the parties.

This order comes after a similar order, handed down last Friday by Madam Justice Edwina Grima in which she ordered that the records of the murder trial were to be accessible only to the parties involved. That order was given after she was informed by the prosecution that the Degiorgios lawyer had sent an FBI report from the murder inquiry to a US company for analysis without the court’s permission.

The case will continue on 22 November.

Lawyer Abigail Caruana Vella appeared for the Attorney General.

Lawyers Karol Aquilina, Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia appeared on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family.

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