Daphne Caruana Galizia’s laptops and hard drives handed over to German police

Family representatives of the slain journalist handed over the electronic equipment to the German police on 27 April but this does not mean data will be immediately available to Maltese investigators, the Daphne Project reports

Electronic equipment used by Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was killed is now with the German police
Electronic equipment used by Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was killed is now with the German police

Two laptops and three hard drives that belonged to Daphne Caruana Galizia were handed over to the German federal police (BKA), according to the Daphne Project.

The electronic equipment was handed over by “family representatives” on 27 April, according to replies given to Daphne Project partners Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Times of Malta reported on Wednesday evening.

The equipment is believed to have been used by the slain journalist before her death in a car bomb on 16 October last year.

The laptops were at the centre of controversy after it emerged in court that the only laptop given to Maltese investigators by the family had last been used in 2015.

Three men are accused with the murder and one of the suspects, Alfred Degiorgio, filed a constitutional application over the family's refusal to grant Maltese investigators access to the equipment.

Degiorgio claimed that the police’s inability to obtain the laptops breached his right to a fair trial.

MaltaToday had reported last month that seven days after the murder, the police asked duty Magistrate Anthony Vella, who was leading the inquiry into the journalist’s death, to request the laptop from the family. Vella could not say whether he did take action when asked by MaltaToday.

Caruana Galizia's sister, Corinne Vella, later confirmed with the Daphne Project that the family refused to hand over the device to the authorities.

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

In its reporting on Wednesday evening, the Daphne Project says the BKA informed Magistrate Aaron Bugeja that they were in possession of the laptops.

Bugeja is the magistrate leading the Egrant inquiry, unrelated to the murder.

Bugeja is believed to have been drawn into the picture because he had sent the BKA a “mutual assistance request” over the Egrant inquiry, for information from the Panama Papers last year. The German police had acquired the Panama Papers database and Bugeja sought information on the three Panama companies set up by Nexia BT for Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and a third unnamed individual.

The Daphne Project said Bugeja could now ask the BKA for “backup copies” of the data from Caruana Galizia’s laptops.

The German federal police told Süddeutsche Zeitung that it could not rule out that other Maltese authorities file a request for mutual assistance for copies of the data for use in cases unrelated to the Egrant inquiry.

They did not say whether such requests would be acceded to but insisted the regional prosecutor’s office in Wiesbaden was not conducting its own investigation into the data on the laptops.

This means that copies of the data from Caruana Galizia's electronic equipment will not immediately be available Magistrate Anthony Vella, who is leading the inquiry into her death.