Magistrate can’t say whether he asked Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family for her laptop

Police filed a court application asking the inquiring magistrate to take possession of the laptop after they realised that the one collected from the Caruana Galizia household was an old one

One of the three men accused of assassinating Daphne Caruana Galizia being escorted to court. Photo: James Bianchi
One of the three men accused of assassinating Daphne Caruana Galizia being escorted to court. Photo: James Bianchi

It is unclear whether the magistrate tasked with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder inquiry had followed on a police request to secure the journalist’s laptop.

Magistrate Anthony Vella has confirmed that the police did file a court application asking him to take possession of the laptop and any information on it that may have been useful to the investigation.

However, when asked by MaltaToday whether he did ask the family to hand over the laptop, Vella insisted he could not answer.

“I cannot answer these questions because the investigation from my end is still pending,” he said.

Sources told MaltaToday that in the days after the murder, the police filed a court application asking the magistrate to take the journalist’s laptop in his possession after they realised that the one collected from the Caruana Galizia household was an old one.

Confronted by this information, Vella did not deny it.

“There was a court application in this sense but I cannot remember for certain. It has been a while and the acts of the inquiry are now part of the compilation of evidence,” he said.

Vella was appointed to head the murder inquiry instead of Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera after the Caruana Galizia family had asked for her removal from the case.

The missing laptop may contain information that could be crucial to the investigation.

In court, last week it emerged that the only laptop analysed by court-appointed expert Alfred Cardona was an old one and last used by the journalist in December 2015.

Cardona was testifying in the compilation of evidence against three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia with a powerful car bomb six months ago.

Cardona told the court that the laptop, a maroon Dell mini, did not contain any recent material from the journalist’s blog. It was the only laptop given to him for analysis.

In another sitting last December, police inspector Kurt Zahra had testified that no sign of Caruana Galizia’s laptop was found at the scene of the explosion and that the victim's son, Matthew, did not know whether she had taken it out with her.

Caruana Galizia’s last blogpost on the day of the murder was uploaded at 2.35pm and contained the famous words ‘There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate’.

Just 23 minutes after her last blogpost, Caruana Galizia was murdered by a car bomb outside her house in Bidnija.

The blogpost referred to a court sitting that happened in the morning, involving the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

News portals reported the court sitting proceedings at around 12.30pm. This suggests that Caruana Galizia’s post is unlikely to have been scheduled and that the journalist had been using her laptop at home just before the assassination.

MaltaToday asked Caruana Galizia’s husband, Peter, whether the family was in possession of the laptop but he refused to answer

“I am not answering any questions. I am not taking any interview,” he said.

The three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia were never mentioned in her blog. However, the journalist had written about Adrian Agius, one of the other seven arrested last December but who were later released on police bail. Caruana Galizia had written four articles about Agius, all dated 12 October 2014.

Agius is the son of Raymond Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, who was murdered at the Butterfly Bar in Birkirkara in 2008. Caruana Galizia had also written about Agius’s associate, 23-year-old Terence Gialanze, who went missing in November 2012.

George Degiorgio, known as Iċ-Ċiniż, his brother Alfred, known as il-Fulu, and Vincent Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, stand charged with the journalist’s murder.

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