Vince Muscat, one of the three men charged with assassinating Daphne Caruana Galizia, feared that his daughter would fall victim to an acid attack after the Degiorgio brothers somehow found out he was spilling the beans to the police.
Criminal lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, who used to represent Muscat, testified in court today at the public inquiry looking into the journalist’s assassination.
He said Muscat had named alleged murder middleman Melvin Theuma to the police on 23rd April 2018 in an attempt to acquire a presidential pardon for himself. This was the first time the police heard Theuma’s name and, after this revelation, then police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, then deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta and Homicide Inspector Keith Arnaud held a meeting with then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Shortly after this meeting, Muscat was confronted in prison by George and Alfred Degiorgio, his suspected accomplices in the murder, who told him they knew he was spilling the beans.
Muscat informed Azzopardi, who went straight to Arnaud. According to Azzopardi, Arnaud was shocked that the information leaked and Valletta promised to investigate it.
Azzopardi said there were constant rumours in the underworld that Muscat’s family could be attacked as a form of revenge and there were even rumblings of an acid attack against his daughter. In July 2018, death threats were made against Muscat.
Azzopardi refused to disclose the source of the threats, simply stating that Muscat has friends too.
The murder suspect started being monitored and all food brought to him was checked in case it was poisoned.
Azzopardi started feeling worried for his own safety and asked Cutajar for protection for both himself and Muscat, but the then police commissioner warned him that doing so would only prove that Muscat really was spilling the beans.
While Theuma was eventually given a pardon, Muscat wasn’t, even though Azzopardi said police had wanted to grant him one. He said that then Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had once approached him at a funeral and told him he could only offer one pardon, an intervention the lawyer found “strange”.
And in October 2019, Cutajar told Azzopardi that Muscat won’t be given a pardon because “the word from above is that his testimony is hearsay”.