Lawyers for Agius brothers force ‘split’ in firm whose partner dropped Koħħu

Defence counsels for the Agius brothers no longer feature as partners to firm of Arthur Azzopardi after lawyer dropped brief for Vincent Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’ 

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi
Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi

Defence counsels for the Agius brothers – separately accused in the Caruana Galizia and Chircop murders – appear to have been ‘split’ from the law firm of Arthur Azzopardi, the one-time lawyer of the Agiuses.

Azzopardi had claimed in 2019 that he had renounced his brief for Vincent Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’, at the time one of three men accused of the Caruana Galizia assassination, a decision pertaining to his new legal partnership with Alfred Abela and Keith Borg. Only a year later, the Azzopardi Borg & Abela firm has dropped both Abela and lawyer Rene Darmanin from its website’s roster of lawyers.

The cosmetic change appears to confirm claims of a ‘split’ in the law firm, even though Azzopardi’s former clients appear to have been passed on to his new partners.

Azzopardi had previously been a lawyer for Robert Agius, one of the men accused of procuring the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia. He had represented Agius when he was accused of involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy and simple possession of cocaine. He was cleared in June 2020, with Azzopardi and Abela as his counsels, together with Rene Darmanin.

Now Abela and Darmanin are representing Robert and Adrian Agius, known by their family nickname ‘Tal-Maksar’.

Muscat recently pleaded guilty to the murder of Caruana Galizia, obtaining a pardon for his role in the murder of Carmel Chircop. Chircop had loaned More Supermarkets €750,000, the debt being guaranteed by a property hypothec from Adrian Agius as one of the directors of the supermarket chain.

Arthur Azzopardi had renounced his brief for Vincent Muscat in late 2019, shortly before the arrest of alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas magnate.

The motivation appeared in part down to Muscat’s unwillingness to recant on pointing out Melvin Theuma as the middleman, although Azzopardi had denied this.

Muscat told investigators as early as April 2018 that the killers were commissioned by Theuma, an associate of Yorgen Fenech who ran the taxi stand outside the Portomaso Hilton.

Theuma was leaked information that Muscat was requesting a pardon for information on the assassination. In recorded conversations with Fenech’s business partner Johann Cremona, Theuma was told in August 2019 that Muscat had “tried to reveal” what he knew.

Then in September 2019, Cremona told Theuma that Muscat would be made to recant the information he gave to the police. When Muscat did not do as expected, in late October, Azzopardi dropped the brief for Muscat.

The contents of that conversation suggest that Muscat’s mentioning of Theuma back in 2018 also led to a money laundering investigation that the middleman was anxious about.

Cremona stated in this same conversation that there are “big threats going on here… with Koħħu’s family. Not money… threats. Fingers crossed, this goes away tomorrow.”

Cremona also claimed that Azzopardi had mentioned Theuma’s name to The Times “some eleven months back” (October 2018).