Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia has poured cold water on reports that his office is set to imminently issue a bill of indictment against the three men charged with murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia so as to prevent their automatic release on bail.
In a Facebook post following a report by the Malta Independent on Sunday, Galea Farrugia said the newspaper should “cut the crap and let everyone do their job”.
George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat were charged with the murder of the journalist on 5th December 2017, after police made use of extensive telecommunications evidence linking them to the scene of the crime.
However, Maltese law dictates that suspects must automatically be granted bail should the AG not issue a bill of indictment against them within 20 months.
This essentially means that the suspects will be out on the streets unless the AG issues a bill of indictment by 5th August, a move that will call on the accused to appear before a jury.
While magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit has declared there is enough prima facie evidence to issue a bill of indictment against the three men, the prosecution – composed of the police, the AG and the legal team representing Caruana Galizia’s family – have not finished compiling their evidence against the suspects.
The case has been held back in no small part due to several legal battles instigated by the suspects’ lawyers, which have repeatedly served to delay proceedings.
Quoting anonymous sources close to the case, the Independent reported that the AG plans to issue a bill of indictment within the next month so as to prevent them from being granted bail.
“There is no intention to ever let any of them see the light of day,” the sources were quoted as saying. “They want to lock them up and throw away the key.”
Galea Farrugia said that it is the AG’s legal duty to only file a bill of indictment when all evidence has been duly gathered during committal proceedings.
“A prima facie decree is…well. a prima facie decree, establishing that at FACE VALUE there are enough reasons (not proof) to warrant further compilation of evidence,” he said. “To go to trial, the prosecution needs to have enough evidence compiled to be in a position to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. This is far more onerous than the prima facie level! So please cut the crap and let everyone do his job.”
Similarly, lead homicide investigator Keith Arnaud decried the newspaper’s report as irresponsible and false.
“We do not ‘lock people up and throw away the key’. That is NOT our job,” Arnaud said. “So please, dear David Lindsay, or whoever is behind [the story], it is your responsibility that before you publish anything, whether it is coming from a ‘source’ or some sort of fantasy that you might have dreamt of, do have some decency and consider well the wording and any impact your article may have.”
“This is apart from the fact that you have no idea how the legal system works in Malta. It’s a pity that your ‘source’ did not guide you on this! Anyway, in concluding, may I point out that I am one source (a true source) in the case and am in a position to certify your article as a big irresponsible farce!”