Man mentioned in Caruana Galizia blog evasive over Chris Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio phone calls

Pierre Darmanin had contacted Daphne Caruana Galizia, who most probably knew him since Darmanin used her husband Peter Caruana Galizia as a lawyer in civil proceedings

Daphne Caruana Galizia had carried a clarification from Pierre Darmanin (centre), who allegedly called Chris Cardona (top) and Alfred Degiorgio (bottom) after ending his conversation with the journalist
Daphne Caruana Galizia had carried a clarification from Pierre Darmanin (centre), who allegedly called Chris Cardona (top) and Alfred Degiorgio (bottom) after ending his conversation with the journalist

Pierre Darmanin is the man mentioned by an Italian newspaper on Monday as allegedly having called minister Chris Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio shortly after phoning Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Darmanin’s name cropped up in a blog post Caruana Galizia wrote on 31 October 2016. The Żurrieq man had called the journalist to clarify his position in relation to the blog post that spoke of fuel smuggling.

Darmanin was investigated over fuel smuggling but never charged when a fishing vessel that belonged to him was impounded in 2013.

He was ostensibly known to Caruana Galizia, given that her husband Peter Caruana Galizia was his lawyer in civil proceedings, at least up to March 2016. La Repubblica made no reference to this fact in their reportage.

Peter Caruana Galizia was Darmanin’s lawyer in a case instituted against him by his former partner, Labour candidate Rachel Tua.

In the blog, Caruana Galizia described the different patterns with which fuel smugglers and drug traffickers were being killed. It was uploaded on the morning when a powerful car bomb killed John Camilleri, known as Giovann tas-Sapun, in Buġibba.

Caruana Galizia linked Darmanin’s fishing vessel to one of the victims of a car bomb earlier that year.

She later included a short clarification by Darmanin that the vessel referred to in the story no longer belonged to him.

However, in the latest instalment of the Daphne Project, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Monday, said that after hanging up from Caruana Galizia, Darmanin first called Economy Minister Chris Cardona and then Alfred Degiorgio.

The newspaper said phone records that form part of the murder inquiry show that Darmanin made the phone calls immediately after hanging up. The nature of the conversation between Darmanin and the other two men is unknown.

La Repubblica said it had Darmanin's name but stopped short of releasing it because it could not get through to him.

Darmanin is evasive

When contacted by MaltaToday on Tuesday afternoon, Darmanin said he was unaware of the news report by La Repubblica.

However, he did confirm that he spoke to Caruana Galizia in October 2016 but was evasive over the alleged phone calls to Cardona and Degiorgio.

Darmanin then cut short the conversation, insisting he had a meeting to attend. He said that he would call back after two hours. He has not.

MaltaToday sent its questions by WhatsApp but has received no replies yet.

Darmanin’s name had also appeared in court proceedings that concerned a certain Martin Cachia from Marsaskala, who was killed in a car bomb in January 2016.

The court records included a letter, signed by Darmanin, and dated 11 December, 2015, asking an unspecified recipient to permit Cachia to travel with him to Egypt. Darmanin was listed as the director of Darmanin Fisheries Limited.

Darmanin had told Caruana Galizia that Cachia had forged his signature.

Smear campaign

Cardona has so far failed to clarify the nature of the relationship he had with Darmanin, insisting the report in La Repubblica is part of a smear campaign.

The newspaper also reported that Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio had been present together for a bachelor’s party held in a villa in Fawwara on 29 June 2017.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Cardona said that no lawyer, especially those who worked in the criminal field like him, could vouch that in social events for which they are invited there are no persons of bad conduct. He said it was "ridiculous" to try and connect him to the Caruana Galizia murder.

The evidence quoted by La Repubblica is circumstantial and does not imply any link between Caruana Galizia’s murder and either Cardona or Darmanin.

The journalist was killed on 16 October 2017 in a car bomb shortly after leaving her house in Bidnija.

Three men were arrested and charged with her murder in December 2017. The case against brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat, is ongoing.

In court, it emerged that Alfred Degiorgio and Muscat had acted as spotters on a hill above Bidnija. Alfred was the one who informed George of Caruana Galizia’s last movements before the bomb was triggered by an SMS.

So far, the mastermind behind the murder has eluded justice.