Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo will decide in Chambers whether or not to grant Adrian Agius, the man accused of commissioning the 2015 murder of Carmel Chircop.
The compilation of evidence against Agius and his associates continued today with the court also hearing submissions on a bail request by Agius, with his lawyer, Alfred Abela, insisting with the court that there were no legal grounds for his continued detention.
He has been charged along with his brother Robert, Caruana Galizia murder suspect George Degiorgio and Jamie Vella.
Robert Agius and Jamie Vella stand accused of supplying the bomb that was used to kill the journalist, while Degiorgio and Adrian Agius have been charged with Chircop’s murder.
In his reply to Agius’s bail application, prosecuting lawyer George Camilleri from the Attorney General’s office told the court that while the presumption of innocence did exist, the suspicions against Agius were serious and well-founded.
He pointed to decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which he said had often denied bail on public interest grounds. Moreover, he added that the accused had been detained for a relatively short period of time, meaning that the court should have no problem denying bail.
Camilleri referred to the defence’s arguments, that Agius had a family and other ties to Malta, pointing out that Agius was also known to have many contacts and business interests abroad, and was in fact known to travel for long stretches of time on business.
He added that the severity of crimes, and the punishment he was facing, meant there was a real risk of him absconding.
Abela countered, however, saying that a flight risk needed to be clearly specified and quantified, stressing that foreign business links were not enough. He pointed out that Agius was being charged with his involvement in the Chircop murder only, and that he would have had ample time to flee the country, had this been his intention.
The severity of the charges, he added, was never enough to justify the denial of bail.
Turning to Camilleri’s argument about the public interest in the case, Abela highlighted the fact that in each instance where the argument was invoked by the ECHR, it had referred back to local law.
“It is clear that the court is saying that for someone to be denied bail on public interest grounds, this must be contemplated in local law,” the lawyer charged. “In the provisions of the Criminal Code regarding bail, there is no reference to the public interest.”
Camilleri pointed out that the argument had also been used locally, specifically in requests for bail made by the men accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, but Abela pushed back, insisting that ultimately the law needed to determine whether or not the argument could be used.
Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, who is presiding over the case, will hand down a decree in Chambers. A full blow-by-blow account of today’s sitting can be found here.
Lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin are defence counsel to the Agius brothers, while lawyer William Cuschieri is representing George Degiorgio.
Lawyer George Camilleri is prosecuting on behalf of the Attorney General’s office together with Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspectors Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family, while lawyer Vince Galea is appearing for the Chircop family.
The case will resume on 7th July at 9am.
Should Agius be granted bail?