Case law says that using Caruana Galizia murder suspects phone location data is illegal, Court told

Lawyers for Daphne Caruana Galizia murder accused George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat have continued their preliminary pleas to the Bill of Indictment in the murder case against the men

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio
Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio

Lawyers for Daphne Caruana Galizia murder accused George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat have continued their preliminary pleas to the Bill of Indictment in the murder case against the men.

Madam Justice Edwina Grima is hearing William Cuschieri continue his arguments this morning- he had made 105 in the previous sitting.

The law used to gather the men’s mobile phone data: Legal Notice 440.01, now superseded by other legislation, was used to gather vast amounts of other data, he said.

At the CJEU level, that court had declared the base directive, and therefore also the local law, as null. Nullity is retroactive and erga omnes- affecting everybody- he said.

Cuschieri explained that order was null and therefore the prosecution could never have rested on the law which transposed the directive word for word.

Alfred Degiogio had another case claiming a breach of his fundamental human rights as established by the EU, reminded the lawyer. He quoted from a CJEU preliminary reference which established this.

The reference he quoted spoke of “Surnames, Forenames and Addresses,” as the subject data but the prosecution had gone far beyond this, Cuschieri said. Service providers had been asked to provide location data as well, he explained.

In another Maltese case, Vodafone had fought and won a legal challenge not to provide this information in the court of appeal. “This will bring us to a police state, not a democracy” he quoted the judgment as saying.

 “In this case, the exact opposite [of the Vodafone judgment] took place,” argued the lawyer.

“How can an investigator from so many numbers, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, narrow it down to these three numbers?” he asked.

What happened, in this case, goes against European case law and local case law. Vodafone felt so strongly about it that it took it to court and appealed and in this case it does the exact opposite.

The foreign police bodies, Europol, FBI and Netherlands not only gave evidence by also opinion. He said. These opinions must be removed, he said, because they are police officers not court experts.

The case continues.

Deputy AG Philip Galea Farrugia is appearing for the government.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is parte civile for the family.

Lawyers William Cuschieri and Marc Sant are defending George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat, respectively

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