Minister says police will request Germans to pass on Caruana Galizia laptops

Home Affairs minister says German federal police Bundeskriminalamt will be in touch with Maltese authorities to transmit data from Daphne Caruana Galizia's laptops • German police tells MaltaToday it has received no formal request yet

A photo of Daphne Caruana Galizia is held aloft during one of the vigils calling for justice into her murder
A photo of Daphne Caruana Galizia is held aloft during one of the vigils calling for justice into her murder

The Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia has claimed that the German federal police, Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) would be communicating with all competent authorities in Malta to transmit the data from the Daphne Caruana Galizia laptops they had been passed on by the family.

“It is in the government’s interest to find who commissioned the murder. The €1 million reward, for information leading to the person ultimately behind the killing, is still in place. We need to stop the unjust criticism from the Opposition, which tries to make it seem like the person who ordered the hit was in the Labour Party,” Farrugia said on TVM's Xtra.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the BKA has told MaltaToday that it had received no formal request yet from the Maltese authorities. "Until now, there is no incoming formal request of the Maltese authorities to be given the equipment or the data stored on it by copy," a spokesperson for the German federal police said in a reply on Thursday evening.

Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami said he could understand the mistrust the Caruana Galizia family had towards the Maltese police, which led to them pass the laptop over to the German authorities instead.

“This government failed in protecting Caruana Galizia’s life, so much so that someone allegedly commissioned three people to plant a bomb under her car. If anyone was in clear danger in Malta, it was her,” he said. “How can we expect her children to have faith in the police, who let them down to the extent that their mother ended up being murdered?”

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.

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