More details of the gruesome assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia emerged in court today as two police inspectors and the late journalist’s husband Peter Caruana Galizia testified in court.
Here’s a summary of what we learned from today’s court proceedings.
1. The suspects put a lot of thought into the murder
The suspects did not use their own mobile phones to carry out the murder, but instead used old 2G Nokia phones and a SIM card that had been plucked from an old phone and then attached to a device which was then planted inside Caruana Galizia’s car. This indicates a level of awareness that the police could have traced them had they used their personal phones.
The suspects purchased the SIM cards for these phones back in November 2016 and activated them in August of this year. They were hardly ever used and only ever communicated with each other.
When Alfred Degiorgio, who was stationed in Bidnija along with Vince Muscat, saw Caruana Galizia entering her car at around 3pm, he called his brother George who was stationed on a cabin cruiser off the Grand Harbour. George then delivered a fatal SMS to the device which had been planted on the bomb.
2. However, they made some fatal mistakes
The police were able to confirm that the three phones belonged to the three suspects because their movements were identical to the movements of their personal phones.
Also, it emerged that Alfred Degiorgio did not immediately destroy his spare phone after the assassination as his brother had done. This slip-up allowed the police to track the SIM card to the Marsa ‘potato shed’ where the trio were arrested and match its movements with Alfred’s boat ‘Maya’ as it returned to the Grand Harbour.
Alfred Degiorgio committed another fatal error when he discarded a cigarette butt onto the vantage point by the Victoria Lines where he had been stationed to watch Caruana Galizia’s movements. Forensic examination found that his DNA matched that on the cigarette butt.
3. The men had been tracking Caruana Galizia’s movements for weeks
Cell tower data revealed that all three men had been visiting Bidnija for weeks, ostensibly to monitor Caruana Galizia’s movements and find a way to plant the bomb inside her car.
Peter Caruana Galizia revealed that his wife had started parking her rental car inside the garage months before her assassination. However, on the day before the murder, her eldest son Matthew used the car to go for a swim at Exiles and, upon his return, left the car parked inside the drive. The suspects had clearly been monitoring these movements, because at 2am they saw their chance and planted the bomb inside the car.
4. Daphne Caruana Galizia left the house to sort out her garnishee order problem
Peter Caruana Galizia confirmed that his wife had left the house that afternoon because she had an appointment at HSBC’s headquarters to sort out a problem with her bank account that had arisen by the garnishee orders that economy minister Chris Cardona and his aide Joe Gerada had slapped on her.
The garnishee orders were ordered on libel suits the two had filed against Caruana Galizia after she reported in her blog that they had visited a German brothel while on official duty.
5. George Degiorgio seemed to enjoy the assassination
After George sent the fatal SMS, his brother Alfred called him up again for 107 seconds so that his brother could hear the explosion in real time. Afterwards, George called a friend to say he had “just caught two big fish” and messaged his partner to tell her to open him a celebratory bottle of wine.
6. The suspects have not said a word to the police
The three suspects were interrogated separately but all of them stuck to the plot and refused to give the police any information whatsoever, except about their particulars. One of the questions the police asked the suspects was an open-ended one: “Why did you kill Daphne Caruana Galizia?”
7. The men are being kept in solitary confinement….and aren’t happy about it
The press and Caruana Galizia’s family were kicked out of the courtroom for the testimony of assistant prison director Maria Camilleri, due to “public security” concerns.
However, we were still able to glean some information on what was said because we were allowed in just in time to hear the prosecution and defence lawyers arguing about the conditions the suspects have been subjected to. Defence lawyer William Cuschieri said the men have been kept isolated as a form of punishment, even though they are still legally innocent, and confirmed Alfred Degiorgio’s intentions to go on a hunger strike in protest.
8. George Degiorgio was all smiles at the end
Despite the strong evidence the police have against them, the three suspects did not seem in the least bit worried about their futures. When the sitting was over, the suspects had a chat with their lawyers and were witnessed smiling and laughing. As they were led off back to prison in handcuffs, George Degiorgio had a massive beam on his face and chuckled silently as he was walked off…