Just seven days after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder police asked magistrate to take possession of her laptop

According to documents seen by MaltaToday, the police were informed the laptop was in the family's possession

A laptop belonging to Daphne Caruana Galizia was withheld from the police and the inquiring magistrate by the murdered journalist’s relatives, court documents suggest.

Just seven days after Caruana Galizia’s murder, the lead police inspector on the case, Keith Arnaud, asked the inquiring magistrate to use his authority and take possession of the victim’s laptop.

The police were informed the laptop was in the family’s possession, according to documents seen by MaltaToday.

The court application was necessary after investigators found no traces of a laptop on the scene of the car bomb and the only device lifted from the house had last been used in 2015.

Arnaud had asked Magistrate Anthony Vella to take the laptop under his care and preserve any information it may contain that would be of interest to the investigation.

The court application said Caruana Galizia’s relatives had prevented the police, the court-appointed expert and the inquiring magistrate himself, from getting access to the victim’s laptop, the server she used and any other computer device.

The police believe the laptop may contain important information that could lead them to the people behind her murder.

On Sunday, Vella confirmed with MaltaToday that the police had filed the court application but would not say whether he acted on it.

It appears he did not. During the compilation of evidence against three men who have been charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder, it emerged that the only laptop analysed by the court expert was an old one.

The more recent laptop Caruana Galizia was using is very likely to have been at the family home on the day of the murder. The journalist had uploaded her last blogpost some 20 minutes before leaving her house on that fatal afternoon of 16 October.

The blogpost referred to a court sitting that took place in the morning and which news portals had reported at around noon. This means that the blogpost could not have been scheduled for upload several hours before.

Arnaud asked the magistrate to collect any documents linked to the victim’s journalistic work and preserve them under his authority for analysis. The police inspector asked the magistrate to protect the identity of the journalist’s sources but recover any information that could shed light on the motive of the murder and consequently lead to the person or persons who could have been behind the crime to be investigated appropriately.

Police Commissioner speaks

In comments to sister newspaper Illum, Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar said the police had from "the very start of the investigation done all it could at law" to try and ensure the laptop was collected and any information on it that was useful to the investigation be preserved. Cutajar was referring to the court application filed by the lead inspector, asking the magistrate to take possession of the computer.

Meanwhile, Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, yesterday hit out at those questioning whether the family had his mother’s laptop in their possession.

READ MORE: Matthew Caruana Galizia: ‘Did Joseph Muscat plan my mother’s murder on his laptop?’

In a sharp retort, he said the police needed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s laptop and servers rather than his mother’s, to get to those who planned the murder.

“I would burn my mother’s laptop in front of the police, if I knew where it was,” Matthew wrote in a Facebook post yesterday afternoon.

He then asked: “Joseph Muscat, where is your laptop? Where is the laptop and the private joseph@josephmuscat.com email server that you could have used to plan the assassination of my mother?”

READ MORE:  Adrian Delia wants Prime Minister to hand laptop, servers over to police

On Monday night, several banners were put up by unknown individuals in different locations, asking who had Caruana Galizia’s laptop.

But Matthew’s dismissive tone was contradicted by the victim’s sister, Corinne Vella.

‘We do not trust authorities’

Quoted by members of the Daphne Project, an international consortium of journalists, Vella said the family did not trust investigators with the murdered journalist’s laptop.

Daphne Caruana Galizia's sister, Corinne Vella, said the family took the laptop
Daphne Caruana Galizia's sister, Corinne Vella, said the family took the laptop

She confirmed the family refused to hand over the device to the authorities.

Vella’s comments were reported in the Times of Malta, which is part of the Daphne Project.

READ MORE: Daphne’s sister admits family kept her laptop

Vella told the newspaper her sister would never have wanted her laptop to be given to the authorities.

“She would always hide her laptop before going out. It was about protecting her sources. And she died protecting her sources. She knew that whatever information the police got hold of would go straight to the same people in government she was investigating,” Vella said.

READ MORE: Authorities are protecting mastermind behind murder, Peter Caruana Galizia says

Vella is quoted as saying that the police were asking the family to make an “impossible choice”.

“It’s like hand over the laptop or we are not going to investigate. We can’t do that. We just don’t trust them,” Vella said.

READ MORE: 

Witness saw Chris Cardona chatting with Caruana Galizia murder suspect in Siggiewi bar

Cardona publishes answers to Daphne Project, ‘reports have no foundation of truth’

What we know so far from The Daphne Project

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