Degiorgios file Constitutional case over refusal of pardon in Daphne murder

Triggerman-duo in Caruana Galizia assassination filed constitutional case claiming refusal of pardon on murder was abuse of power

Murder suspect George Degiorgio being led out of court. (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Murder suspect George Degiorgio being led out of court. (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The Degiorgio brothers have filed a constitutional case against the Maltese government and the President of the Republic, after their request for a presidential pardon fell on deaf ears.

The two brothers are accused of having executed the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia by car bomb, on 16 October 2017. Another accomplice, Vince Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’, has pleaded guilty in return for a reduced 15-year sentence and information that led to the arraignment of alleged bomb-makers Adrian and Robert Agius ‘tal-Maksar’, and associate Jamie Vella.

George and Alfred Degiorgio asked the Court to recognise that the Cabinet abused of its power when it refused them a pardon.

They have also requested as witnesses former minister Chris Cardona, who has been alleged to have been implicated in an original plot to kill Caruana Galizia; and minister Carmelo Abela, whom convicted killer Vince Muscat claims was part of the conspiracy in the failed HSBC heist of 2010.

Ministerial links: the Degiorgios and their pardons

The two brothers have explicitly suggested that the government is sitting on their requests for a pardon because their information connects the murder to a “former government minister” who they say was a mastermind.

Their lawyer William Cuschieri said in the writ that his clients received no communication on their request, before learning in the press that the President had been advised by the Cabinet not to accept the pardon request.

They pointed out that the Cabinet decision was taken without the presence of Abela in the meeting, who has sued Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi for defamation for having advanced the claims made by Muscat to police.

“On the contrary, in the pardon requests for Melvin Theuma and Vincent Muscat, these people were given a hearing,” Cuschieri said. Muscat’s pardon was related to the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop, where he told police that the murder was carried out by Jamie Vella at the behest gang boss Adrian Agius.

Cuschieri said the presentation given to Cabinet by the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General was administratively abusive given that his clients were not given a hearing as expected, to justify the information they have.

The lawyer also said it “made no sense” for the AG and Commissioner of Police to advise against the pardon without given them some form of fair hearing; “the Cabinet rested on advice delivered to them in abstract fashion... neither does it make sense for the President to rest on such a recommendation.”

Cuschieri said the pardon’s denial presented “a conflict of interest” for the government, which the lawyer said wants the Degiorgios to be found guilty of their crimes without hearing what they have to say; and because of their direct information as to a government minister as a mastermind and their middleman in the Caruana Galizia assassination, as well as another minister involved in other crimes.

“So it is anomalous and conflicting that the request for a pardon is considered by this same Cabinet of ministers when the pardon itself deals with one of their present and also former colleagues.”

Corinne Vella, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister, has accused the persons involved in the murder of working together to ensure that they all walk free, asking that investigators “follow the money” instead of relying on pardons.

“They want everybody to believe that what they claim to know, even though they don’t offer any evidence on or off the record, is somehow worse than what they have done themselves,” Vella told MaltaToday back in April.