Robert and Adrian Agius, better known as Tal-Maksar, are under arrest on suspicion that they supplied the bomb used to assassinate journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Both have hung over the case like a shroud with their links to the very top echelons of Malta’ criminal underworld raising major concerns.
Not much is known about the third man arrested, Jamie Vella, who has links to the criminal underworld. All three men were among those arrested on 5th December 2017 over their role in the assassination. Only Vince Muscat, who has since pleaded guilty and is willing to provide information, Alfred Degiorgio, and George Degiorgio were charged that day.
A collaborative report from The Times of Malta and Malta Today revealed that the Agius’ criminal web extends to a series of violent murders between gang members opening up a vacuum for the Agius brothers to become the major players in the smuggling world with ties to Italian, Libyan, Romanian and Albanian organised crime groups.
The brothers are sons of Raymond Agius ‘tal-Maksar’, who is also believed to have operated as a contraband cigarette smuggler.
Raymond Agius was murdered in 2008, shot twice in the head at Butterfly Bar in Birkirkara, in what police believe was a targeted hit from a rival. No one was ever charged with the murder.
Following a series of gangland murders between 2011 and 2015, the Agius brothers climbed all the way to the top of the illegal smuggling industry.
Between 2011 and 2017, Malta was blighted by a series of car bombs that either maimed or murdered 20 people. Tal-Maksar are believed to be linked.
Court sittings have revealed that Caruana Galizia murder main suspect Yorgen Fenech once told middleman Melvin Theuma to send a “message to Maksar because that’s where the bomb was made”. Reports also claim that they even offered hush money to one of the men who carried out the murder.
Caruana Galizia had written about Adrian Agius in the past, given that he was the business partner of Ryan Schembri – the former owner of More Supermarkets who fled Malta with his family in 2014 to escape loan sharks to whom he had owed millions of euro.
Ryan Schembri is the cousin of Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with his own links to the murder.
Carmel Chircop, who was murdered on 8th October 2015, was one of the investors in More Supermarkets. He had loaned a company that involved both Schembri and Adrian Agius €750,000. The issue was eventually settled out of court after Chircop was murdered.
It has since been revealed that Muscat is willing to provide information on the Chircop murder. Agius was the guaranteer of the loan and Chricop would have taken Agius’ villa if the loan was not repaid.
She also linked him to the disappearance of Terrence Gialance, who vanished off the face of the earth in 2012 after telling his family he was going fishing. Gialanze, who at 23 years old owned a pricey BMW SUV, a Bentley and a yacht, used to rent a large villa close to Caruana Galizia’s residence in Bidnija.
Agius then sent a cryptic message to Caruana Galizia to deny that he had fled the island.
“The Phoenix for your information I did not escape, I am on a business trip and I will be back. I now you don t have balls but if you find them some were in your wife’s pocket lets meet up and we sort things out. You are just a low life afraid to show your face to hide under stupid name phoenix,” he said.
Robert Agius has also been in the news before after a court ruled that his rights had been breached because a case against him for alleged involvement in a heroin-trafficking conspiracy had taken too long to conclude.
Agius was charged in 2012 but the case ground to a halt when a witness who had told police of his drug dealing involvement refused to testify while criminal action in her regard was still pending. Eventually, a court declared that the prosecution had not sufficiently proved the accused’s intention to sell or traffic drugs.
What do you think of the latest arrests? Comment below