Two of the men charged with murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have questioned the legality of the phone tapping process that led the police to arrest and prosecute them.
Brothers George Degiorgio and Alfred Degiorgio filed a judicial protest in the First Hall of the Civil Court today against the Attorney General, the Police Commissioner and the Director of the Malta Security Services, demanding they present the phone interests and relative warrants which led to their arrests within the next 24 hours.
Their lawyer William Cuschieri argued that a failure to do so would mean that the phone transcripts had been obtained illegally without a warrant or that they don’t exist at all.
During the compilation of evidence against the two men and Vince Muscat, police inspector Keith Arnaud had testified that he was in possession of intercepted phonecalls which implicated George Degiorgio in the murder of Caruana Galizia.
These include a call made by Degiorgio asking for a top-up voucher, which he then allegedly used to send a message to a device that had been attached to Caruana Galizia’s car, triggering it and causing the explosion. Moments after the murder, Degiorgio also messaged his girlfriend to say he had “caught two big fish” and to ask her to buy a bottle of wine to celebrate.
Cuschieri argued that this evidence had “created a lot of sensationalism in the media to the detriment of [the Degiorgios’] presumption of innocence”.
However, he argued that the police hadn’t presented the transcripts or recordings in court, hadn’t stated whether the Security Services had granted a warrant for these interceptions and hadn’t brought forward the Head of the MSS as a witness to confirm their authenticity.
Under Maltese law, phone tapping warrants are issued by the Home Affairs Minister, something which was recently flagged as problematic by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
Cuschieri argued that, unless the police present the phone transcripts and the relative warrants within 24 houts, it could mean that the transcripts were never made in the first place or that they had been carried out illegally and can therefore not be used as evidence in the case.
He warned that his clients will otherwise seek compensation from the police, the AG and the MSS for the “unfounded sensationalism” and damage they had caused to their case.