The courtroom was packed but eerily silent as the three men suspected of assassinating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were marched in. With the nation on edge for just under two months, this is what it boiled down to – three middle-aged Maltese men standing in the dock and whispering to each other as the late journalist’s husband Peter Caruana Galizia looked in.
It didn’t last long. The men were escorted to the court in three different police cars at around 10pm, each one of them lying face down on the backseat with their heads in their hands to avoid the cameras.
There was no drama in the courtroom. The three men – George Degiorgio (Ic-Ciniz), his brother Alfred Degiorgio (Il-Fulu) and their friend Vince Muscat (Il-Kohhu) stood in the dock in front of journalists, police officers and law students. There was nothing spectacular about the three men – all three of average height, all balding, the Degiorgios wiry and Muscat stocky. They did not seem remorseful or scared at all but just stood in the dock solemnly staring at the magistrate, occasionally whispering to each other, as the case went on.
Peter Caruana Galizia had a clear view of the three men suspected of killing his wife and he often glanced their way throughout the sitting, his expression one of utter sadness. At one point, he tried to take a picture of the men but was stopped from doing so by the police. None of the three Caruana Galizia sons were present, but family friend Petra Caruana Dingli was there to offer moral support. PN MPs Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia, were present too, in parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.
The three men have been charged with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia
Magistrate Neville Camilleri walked in and the case proceeded as all court cases do. The three men introduced themselves in mumbles and all three shook their heads when Camilleri asked them where they work. They all requested legal aid and pleaded not guilty to the six charges against them – homicide, involvement in organised crime, promoting and financing a criminal gang, associating with people with the intention of committing a crime in Malta, possession of deadly explosive material, use of explosive material and relapsing.
Alfred Degiorgio then mumbled that they were contesting the legality of the arrests, given that they were only officially given an arrest warrant 36 hours after they were arrested. This argument fell flat instantly, with the magistrate noting the police had clearly told them they were being arrested for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia as soon as they found them yesterday morning – exactly 50 days after the journalist’s murder stunned the nation.
Inspector Keith Arnaud, one of the two inspectors who interrogated the suspects, took to the stand to give a briefing of yesterday morning’s arrests and confirmed the three men were arrested on the same site in Marsa at around 8:15am. Following a request by the police, Camilleri ordered the freezing of the three mens’ assets, allowing them to withdraw €13,976.24 a year as per Maltese law.
The men were then handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom where four policemen – in balaclavas and armed to the teeth – were waiting to escort them to prison where they will be kept in custody.
The police believe they have rock solid evidence against these three men, but there is as yet no word at all about their motives. Caruana Galizia never wrote about any of them, which has led to suspicion they had been commissioned by a third party to carry out the murder.